|Type||Pathfinder Society faction|
|Leader||Trade Prince Aaqir al'Hakam|
|Goals||Dominance Through Trade|
Source: Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play, pg(s). 14 (v6.0)
The Exchange faction within the Pathfinder Society represents Trade Prince Aaqir al'Hakam and the trade organization he owns in partnership with Sczarni crimelord and former faction leader Guaril Karela.
Guaril's takeover of the Sczarni families seemed nothing short of flawless, and within a year, he controlled most of the Sczarni operations in Varisia. In doing so, he and his agents had stepped on quite a few toes, earning them the enmity of the "survivors." For the past year these survivors have orchestrated Guaril's downfall—preferably executed with a sharp knife in a dark alley. Fortunately for Guaril, he had also worked his way into the Pathfinder Society's good graces and established himself as an indispensible spymaster, and the Society devoted some of its resources to keeping the canny Varisian out his enemies' sights.
Meanwhile, Aaqir stepped up to guide the faction after its then leader Pasha Mualia al'Jakri disappeared under violently ominous circumstances, and for several years he has extended the faction's influence and commercial interests in distant ports. However, he has found that some of the more promising opportunities are available only to those without a national affiliation.
In 4712 AR, the Qadira faction undertook an ambitious project to claim markets in Varisia and establish trade relations with Janderhoff. Although agents succeeded in some regards, a wide variety of factors—including the existence of other aggressively mercantile operations like those maintained by some of the Sczarni—stymied their progress. It also seemed that the local people perceived the ambitious, foreign merchants as invaders rather than as well-intentioned entrepreneurs. After months of hard work, Aaqir redirected his resources elsewhere, admitting that the circumstances were not yet right for his organization to supply Varisian demands.
During the Year of the Demon, Qadira faction agents have developed trade contacts far and wide in the Inner Sea region, building upon their past successes in the years before. Markets in the Five Kings Mountains, Druma, Rahadoum, Kaer Maga, Taldor, and Andoran have all shown an interest in the faction's services, and their cooperation has only improved the more that Aaqir portrays his operation as an independent outfit and less as a state-sanctioned business. The significance of this is not lost on the faction leader, and he has quietly laid the groundwork for a new business with the blessing and support of his late mentor, the trade princess Zarmina Bahjari.
Qadira is now aware of Aaqir's plans, and for the most part the satrapy has accepted his new strategy with grace—even though he is severing some of his ties to the nation. Most trade princes operate independently, yet their successes nonetheless fill Qadira's coffers by encouraging more trade to gravitate to Kelish ports; Aaqir's venture is similar in many ways but on a larger scale, and the ruling elite believe it is a better investment to formally accept the faction's transformation, make the most of past accomplishments, and enjoy the fruits of having the faction leader as an ally rather than as a proxy.
What's more, it allows the one-time Qadira faction to merge with like-minded operations that might otherwise balk at heavy-handed Kelish affiliation.
Goals: Dominance Through Trade
The Exchange has lofty aspirations—it wants to be come the Inner Sea's dominant trade cartel, eliminating or acquiring competitors while expanding the types and amounts of goods it handles.
In many ways the new faction is going about business as usual, though it no longer operates as an extension of the Qadiran state. Its members act more like business partners than Society agents.
Aaqir has an eye for talent and believes the Sczarni network is too valuable to dissolve as a result of Guaril's recent troubles. Instead, he believes the Sczarni would benefit from being a part of Aaqir's new endeavor, and in doing so his business would expand beyond the mundane delivery of goods and into the realm of more "challenging" commodities without alienating his more respectable mercantile allies.