I've been pretty successful as a merchant. I just bought a new set of fancy armor, costing more than 15,000 thaler. I have an entourage of almost 60 cavalry. And I still have more than 20,000 thaler in capital. Life is good.
Yet I feel a yearning for something money cannot buy. I'm not sure what it is, exactly, I guess something like "adventure" or "prestige," but somehow without all the inevitable bloodshed that comes with it. Since I know that's not forthcoming, I'm in a bit of a pickle.
Ultimately, the big problem is that I don't want anyone to hate me. I've traveled from one end of fictionalized eastern Europe to another, trading in every major city along the way. I'm used to a certain freedom of movement and I don't want to give that up.
It would help if there were any noticeable difference between the factions. If one of the various states started raiding my caravans, that would be a strong incentive to side against them. Or if one of the rulers seemed especially virtuous and honorable, perhaps I'd want to offer him my service. As it is, the story of the setting is constrained by randomness.
Or, at least, that's how it seems. The one time I approached a noble with an offer to help his realm, he wanted me to sack a rebellious village without flying his kingdom's flag, the better to terrify the populace. I found that pretty gross and walked away, but I can't help but wonder if it would have opened more story missions if I'd gone through with it.
Reading the achievement list, I know that there are main storyline quests associated with the different factions, but ten hours in and apparently none of them activate for the wandering-trader type. If I want to get involved, I'm going to have to start acting like an amoral mercenary.
Which, honestly, is my biggest problem with this series. I always start out wanting to play a chivalric romance (or dull medieval commerce simulator) and wind up getting involved in some morally grimy, but otherwise inconsequential shenanigans on the outer circle of the game's political cliques. Even if I started working for a faction at this very minute, it would undoubtedly lead to hours of me following around a general and/or attempting to train a handful of specific troops before I was ever entrusted with any degree of genuine power.
I'd just as soon keep wandering the countryside trading valuables all over the map, except there's not enough left to buy. I really thought I'd move up an economic tier once I got enough money to consistently fill my inventory with trade goods, but now my profits are limited by the fact that each city only has a limited amount of stuff available to trade. I can afford to haul 20 units of even the most expensive stuff, but it's rare to see a commodity with more than 5 or six units available. So my growth in wealth is strictly linear, with each new haul contributing a diminishing percentage value to my already-superfluous horde.
It's got to be war, then. I just find myself wishing I'd optimized myself for that from the beginning.