Proud Merchant Race

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

A Proud Warrior Race is a culture whose hat is war. Conversely, a Proud Merchant Race is one whose hat is being Intrepid Merchants. Has overlap with Space Jews, but often in a positive manner with implications of having a tradition of enterprise and exploration. However, on the flip side, aspects of the Corrupt Corporate Executive who will do anything for a quick buck may be in place (since it's deemed less politically incorrect to depict aliens or fantastic creatures in this fashion than real humans) and there may be an Honest John's Dealership or two in the ranks of them (since not all merchants are honest folk).

Also overlaps with Merchant City and sometimes with Space Cossacks. One difference is that a Merchant City can be just a place where Intrepid Merchants from elsewhere visit whereas a Proud Merchant Race has to conduct trading on its own. As trading long distances is dangerous and outlaws ever present, sometimes a Proud Merchant Race is also a Proud Warrior Race.

Despite positive portrayals a fair deal of real-world racism often shows up, especially in older works, with someone getting shrewdly out-negotiated (read: screwed over) by them or occasionally just outright cheated. Another negative tends to be that non-merchants in their ranks likely suffer Klingon Scientists Get No Respect.

Compare Proud Warrior Race and Proud Scholar Race for species with different hats.

No real life examples, please; this is a trope about how characters are depicted in media, and Real Life people are far more nuanced than even the best-developed character.

Examples of Proud Merchant Race include:

Comic Books

  • Asterix has the Phoenicians. We meet one of them in Asterix the Gladiator and Asterix and the Black Gold. Ekonomikrisis tries to run his ship like a business, and only grants Asterix and Obelix passage on board because he plans to sell them as slaves. When they encountered the Pirates, Ekonomikrisis worries "They might kill us, enslave us, or even worse, steal our merchandise!" When the Gauls save the day he enthuses "You have saved that which is dearest to our hearts -- our cargo!"


  • Rhodes in Over the Wine Dark Sea.
  • Icelanders in The Icelandic Sagas
  • The goblins from Harry Potter.
  • The planet Komarr in the Vorkosigan Saga, whose inhabitants seem to either be shrewd businesspeople or scholars. There are some Ambiguously Jewish aspects of the planet and its inhabitants (i.e. the character Duv Galeni), but Italian/Greek names of people, there's also an implication of Venice or the "Greek Tycoon" type. Jackson's Whole is more of an evil version, a Privately-Owned Society with no laws at all.
    • According to in-universe history, Komarr itself is a Merchant Planet, originally colonized because of its crossroads in space character. When they'd accumulated enough capital they expanded into sending their own trading fleets out. Now that they're part of the Barrayaran Empire, their fleets go out with armed escorts. Which have been needed, too.
  • Dwarves in Discworld; sometimes seen as (positive) Space Jews.
    • Ankh-Morporkian humans. Their national anthem includes the line "Let others boast of martial dash, for we have bravely fought with cash!". Its title? "We shall rule you wholesale".
  • The Orca in Dragaera are sailors, which makes them the most prominent traders and businessmen of the Dragaeran Empire. Contrary to the usual trope, Orca are also known for their ferocity. Those who are not sailing or managing a trading empire often get work as cheap muscle.
  • C. J. Cherryth's Chanur Saga has the Hani and their rivals, the Kif.
  • John Ringo's Posleen War series has the "good guy" alien federation, majority-led by a trader species.
  • Deveels in the Myth Adventures series.
  • The followers of John Galt in Atlas Shrugged although the more scientifically inclined ones combine this with Proud Scholar Race.
  • The Vattas and other merchant dynasties of Slotter Key in Vatta's War. Especially the Vattas of course. That is after all the heroine's family and it's In the Blood.
  • The Abh are this along with Proud Warrior Race in Crest of the Stars
  • The Thaylens in The Stormlight Archive are a culture noted for producing lots of traders, merchants, and other businessmen, and who run the whole gamut of this trope- some are presented sympathetically, while others are amoral slave traders. It all varies based on individuals, just like in Real Life.
  • The Beetle-kinden of Helleron in Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt series who have a culturally symbiotic relationship with their Proud Scholar kin of Collegium. The Fly-kinden also have elements of this.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe
    • Corellia is described as falling on most of the major galactic trade routes, making it an economic powerhouse and a center of shipping and starship manufacturing (which means that, consequently, Badass Navies had a large number of Corellians). Trade and business is held in such high regard that Corellia has several seats in its Corellian Council (the legislature responsible for selecting its executive, the Diktat) reserved for corporate representatives. Also, their fleet and defense force is trained primarily to stave off piracy and minimize profit loss, and apparently does a pretty good job (at least until the Empire starts stacking its government with Black Shirts and The Syndicate). Justified in that Corellia is an Expy of the United States, and Coronet City in particular is an Expy of NYC, both of which are known for Proud Merchants. Their Never Tell Me the Odds attitude is also befitting for those in the high risk game of intergalactic business.
    • Hutts, though they prefer more illicit trades.
    • Several members of the Separatist are this, such as the Trade Federation run by the Neimoidians, the Banking Clan run by the Muunilinst.
  • In Everworld, the Coo-Hatch have traces of this. In truth, though, their real hat is smelting—but since their super-sharp steel seems to be their only real resource in Everworld, they naturally have to trade for anything else.
  • In Animorphs, the Iskoort. Their planet seems to be some sort of large trading hub where members of all different species do business. Every Iskoort seems to be part of some kind of special guild, which includes one dedicated entirely to shopping (in order to keep the economy going, after all). One specialty of theirs is trading in memories, which are copied from people's minds and later bought and viewed by others. They only appear in one book, during which the Animorphs find them extremely annoying.
  • In E. E. Knight's Age of Fire series the Dwarves are divided between those who fit this type like the Diadem Chartered Company and those who fit the Proud Warrior Race type like the Fire Wheel tribe. Each tends to look down on the other.
  • Honor Harrington: Despite the formidable reputation of their navy (in SPACE!), the Star Kingdom of Manticore is this trope in spades: the one thing that makes it possible for them to achieve military superiority over the People's Republic of Haven and forge a strong alliance to bolster their position is the thriving economy produced by their skillful use of the Manticore Wormhole Junction's economic potential.
    • This is also true of the Charisians in Weber's Safehold series.
  • In Elantris the merchants took over Arelon after Elantris fell and tried to force the nation into being a Proud Merchant Race; political positions are awarded according to who earns the most money. Even the king could lose his throne if someone made more than him in a given year (though being able to count the nation's tax revenue as his personal income makes this unlikely).
  • The Sea Folk, or Atha'an Miere, from The Wheel of Time. Though they love their ships (obviously) and are more than competent in a fight, their culture is heavily based around trading and bargaining. They even bargain with The Chosen One when he shows up- and the fact that they know full well who he is and what he's destined to do just makes them want to drive a harder one!
  • Orions tend to fill this role in the Star Trek Novel Verse, when they're not being Space Pirates.
  • The Tsaw'ha or Traders from the Circle of Magic universe. Nomadic, simultaneously discriminated against by settled countries (sometimes with deliberate references to historical views of Jews and/or gypsies in real life, like a character accusing them of kidnapping and killing babies for magic rituals) and very xenophobic and insular, with their own religion and a strict culture of not creating, only buying and selling. It's not really clear to what extent they're an ethnic group or something more like a subculture.
  • Qarth in A Song of Ice and Fire is a bustling port city brimming with wealth. Three guilds of merchant princes are always competing with each other and the nominal rulers of the city for power.

Live Action TV

  • Star Trek.
    • The Ferengi culture is based entirely on acquiring wealth. Quark is visibly confused and disappointed that his victories in delicate trade negotiations are not seen as equal to the deeds of war heroes in the eyes of non-Ferengi. Even their religion is based on acquiring profit by buying things where they are common and selling them where they are rare, something they call the Great Material Continuum.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine introduces the Karemma, merchants who are members of the Dominion. A couple of episodes showed Quark and some Karemma doing trade deals. Unlike Ferengi they believe in being completely honest in their deals. Oddly this gets exaggerated to using fixed prices based on manufacturing costs; in other words, they are traders with no concept of market forces or basic economics.
  • Koreans in the Korean serial epic Emperor of the Sea.

Tabletop Games

  • Traveller: The Terran Confederation. Tizon in the Sword Worlds. Vargr to some degree. The "Merchant Princes of Skull" (in the volume Spinward Marches). The Oberlindes Family perhaps. At least the Oberlinders are a Badass Family of Merchant Princes.
    • The Third Imperium claims to be this as well, and has some merit for the claim. However a large part of it's economy is to routinized and bureaucratized to give it the true glamour of a Proud Merchant Race. It is often more like an efficient merchant race.
  • Dungeons & Dragons, as usual.
    • The Arcane from Spelljammer and Planescape, who were even renamed "Mercane" in later editions. The Illithids, of all people, have elements of this as well.
    • Other merchant hat wearers in Spelljammer are Rastipede (in Honest John's Dealership style) and Dohwar (with a good dose of Plucky Comic Relief).
    • Sembia, human "merchant kingdom" of Forgotten Realms. They earned the reputation of both hard-working and avaricious people. "When you look into a Sembian's eyes, you can see coins being counted in his mind."
      • Amn also has a similar hat.
    • The space-faring Neogi is an extremely evil version of this trope. How evil? They are lumped together with other Eldritch Abomination such as Aboleth, Illithid, and Tsochari. They are known to be one of the few races the Arcane refuse to deal with.
  • The Hacan in Twilight Imperium are explicitly this (they have trade-based special abilities) and are portrayed as a cross between anthropomorphic lions and stereotypical Arabian traders.
  • Mercadians in Magic: The Gathering, to the point of Mongers, who have abilities anyone can activate. (These can still be useful: Squallmonger, which damages flying creatures, is great if you're the only one with flying creatures.) It also gave mercenaries mechanics, and had more mercenaries than any previous set. Yeah, capitalism was a big theme in Mercadia.
  • In GURPS Aliens the Traders are, as the name implies, obsessed with trading. Otherwise, they're a typical race of four-dimensional beings who appear as ever-shifting three-dimensional shapes to most other beings.

Video Games

  • The video game Galactic Civilizations lets the player put this hat on themselves, and it's possible to win the game by conquering the galaxy through trade agreements/alliances, by collapsing the economies of rivals, or through cultural exchange brought on by trade.
    • The specialty of the Dominion of Korx in the second game where species other than humans are playable. They consider selling your own mother into slavery a "right of passage."
  • The volus from the Mass Effect series. Because of their uselessness in combat, they have become a Proud Merchant Race.
    • Since every other species but the hanar is at least somewhat capable in combat (and the hanar have drell assassins), this gives them a secondary hat as the galaxy's Butt Monkey. Something bad happens to almost every volus NPC.
    • Their ambassador, Din Korlack, is quite bitter because his species hasn't earned a Council seat, despite being a Citadel race longer than everyone but the asari and salarians and managing the Citadel's entire economy. The official line is that the volus aren't able to contribute to the Citadel defense fleet.
    • In Mass Effect 3, we get a better look at the actual volus military. While they rely on the turians for protection, they do have a respectable navy, including one of the most advanced dreadnoughts in the galaxy and a number of carriers. Their lack of militarization bit them on the ass in the battle for their homeworld, since their cities were built with easy trade routes in mind and no thought to defensibility.
  • The Mogay in the first Grandia.
  • The Melnorme of Star Control 2. Culturally, they consider giving anything, without fair and just compensation, to be vulgar and inappropriate.
    • Do note that this goes both ways for the Melnorme: while they do charge for everything, everything they sell is guaranteed to be useful or (in the case of information) true to the best of their knowledge. To cheat their customers would be extraordinarily taboo. This is the major thing that separates them from the Druuge.
    • Also the Druuge, but they're more of a species-wide Honest John's Dealership, willing to do anything if it means turning a profit. It is possible to do business with them and get something good out of it, but you have to negotiate and haggle very carefully.
  • World of Warcraft: Goblins to an extent. The tuskarr come off as this as well (mostly dealing in fish), though their deity wants them to take up the fight alongside the Horde and Alliance.
    • The Goblins of the Steamwheedle Cartel are nearly identical in most all aspects with the Ferengi of Star Trek. The Goblins of the Bilgewater Cartel, on the other hand, are basically gangsters (though they did have a massive manufacturing complex on Kezan, and they are trying to rebuild).
    • Ethereals are inter-dimensional examples. Like with Goblins, different operations have different morals: the Consortium seems to be roughly equally morally to the Steamwheedle Cartel (though they've been known to involve themselves in smuggling) and players can earn reputation with them, but the Vir'aani are basically Space Pirates.
    • Battle for Azeroth introduces the Tortolians, a long-lived race of turtle-like humanoids. They seem to have more morals than the Goblins or Ethereals, and are allies with both the Alliance and Horde. The only race they refuse to deal with is the Naga.
  • The Hanseatic League in Patrician III. As a by-the-way the term means "League of merchant's guilds." Or in other words it almost literally means Trade Federation!
    • One other possible translation of Hansa is League. Or group, cluster, entourage or crowd. This can be implied by that other, more modern, famous Hansa: the Lufthansa. Yes, the North German traders were so dominant in their time and region that their organisation ended up being called simply the League, no descriptors.
  • The Bentusi from Homeworld. They sell you some technologies that eventually help you reclaim Hiigara. This later turns out to be an attempt to fight their enemies without operating openly. In the Cataclysm expansion we learn that the technology they keep for themselves is orders of magnitude more advanced than anything any of the other races use and they only sold you enough to even the odds; giving you the plans for their fighters is enough to tip the balance in the final battle.
  • This is one of the archetypes alien races can take on in Spore. Trader civilizations are actually some of the easiest folks to get along with, especially if you're in the market for some powerups.
  • The Gnolam of Master of Orion II.
  • Invoked (but not actually used) in Dragon Quest III. The male merchant in the Game Boy Color version wears a turban, while the female wears more of an Orientalist fantasy of Arabian-style clothing.
  • Gorons in The Legend of Zelda series have evolved into this over successive games, though their culture is a mix of this and Proud Warrior Race. Not only are they super-powerful rock-eating rock people, but they also are merchants travelling the land, selling their wares to anyone who will buy – whether that be at Hyrule Castle Town, their homeland in a volcano, or even on random islands in the Great Sea. Or in stranger places.
  • Nopon in Xenoblade are a society largely driven by fair trade. Despite being rather unintimidating balls of fur (one is briefly used as a volleyball) often shown to be afraid of the local wildlife, many are Intrepid Merchants, found in odd spots all over Bionis, often with domesticated animals far larger than themselves in tow.
  • The Elder Scrolls has the Khajiit, a race of Catfolk who're known as skilled traders. Among other things.
    • The Imperials also count, as the Septim Empire is known both for its armies and its mercantile pursuits.
  • The Teladi in the X-Universe series have their entire species organized like a Mega Corp. This even extends into their combat vessels, which are built using tech purchased from other races and all have boxy, utilitarian architecture and larger-than-average cargo bays. They're also so profit-obsessed that the word makes it into every third sentence, with a very pronounced emphasssisssss on the letter ssssss.


  • The Drowolath from Drowtales, considering that feeding the nobility, who are, of course, snobbish jerks about it, requires many Intrepid Merchants to venture to the Overworld, a land where knights in dishonorable armor roam, where danger in the form of ravenous beasts (wolves and the like) abounds, and where it actually freakin' RAINS OMG.

Web Original

  • The Duchy of Remillia from Open Blue, which is modeled on the Dutch colonial empire.