September 21, 2019, Saturday, 263


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Established by the Great Convention as the Imperial financial reserve, the CHOAM (an acronym for Combine Honette Ober Advancer Mercantiles) company also serves as the principal development corporation within the Imperium. With offices and representatives on nearly every world and outpost, CHOAM and its countless subsidiaries reach into the daily lives of every Imperial citizen. Since it is controlled by the Emperor and the Great Houses themselves (with the Guild and Bene Gesserit as silent partners), CHOAM’s interests extend into every conceivable area of production, research, and development. From the gas mines of Avara to the wilderness preserves on Ecaz, from petrochemicals on Giedi Prime to vat-grown biologicals on Tleilax, the CHOAM banner is an ever-present symbol of the all-encompassing nature of Imperial power.

CHOAM control and influence permeates Imperial commerce and production. CHOAM representatives can be found on homeworlds throughout the Known Universe, overseeing the means of production and manufacturing on thousands of worlds. These representatives are responsible for enforcing and setting production quotas, collecting tithes, debts and company fees, maintaining the balance of trade in assigned regions and supporting or instituting official sanctions, bans or embargoes. Since they derive their power directly from the company’s Board, such agents are considered untouchable by outside interests.

Most of the Great Houses control small interests in the CHOAM Corporation, with the Emperor and a small handful of powerful Houses retaining the controlling interest. The CHOAM Board of Directors hold the economic fate of the universe in their hands, and Board decisions reverberate throughout the Known Universe, dictating the fates of entire planets. The Great Houses, including the House Imperial, control approximately 60% of CHOAM with an additional 6% held by various Houses Minor, and final 34% controlled by a number of silent partners (including the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood and the Spacing Guild). CHOAM Directors enjoy enormous power, and seats on the CHOAM board remain one of the most coveted Imperial appointments for any Great House. These seats are allocated according to CHOAM ownership, and at any time the Board represents a significant portion of the company’s overall House-controlled assets. With the company’s virtual monopoly over the spice-drug mélange, among other things, its power serves as a significant counterbalance to the tremendous influence exerted by the Spacing Guild and its Guild Bank. The complex relationship between these two Imperial economic powers demands cooperation where there might otherwise exist only conflict.

Commerce in the Imperium

In the modern Imperium, interplanetary and interstellar trade have both once again become commonplace. The controlled economy of the Imperium makes the wholesale exchange of goods and services a simple, if not particularly exciting matter. Most Great Houses have become extensive participants in the commercial and mercantile life of the Imperium. The Great Convention and the CHOAM Company charter set forth the general parameters for such commerce, regulating certain types of trade goods (weapons, technology, narcotics, etc.), establishing the standard transport rates found in the Guild Shipping Contract, and generally monitoring the widespread exchange of goods and services within the Imperium.

Individual Houses bear responsibility for regulating their own planetary marketplaces—certain goods deemed acceptable by the Guild or CHOAM may be banned by a House or planetary Sysselraad in the common planetary or interstellar marketplace. Similarly, on some worlds goods produced domestically may be banned by CHOAM but still deemed legal in the domestic or system-wide marketplace. Obviously, such goods cannot be legally transported out-system by the Guild.

A growing smuggler trade has become a prominent feature in many systems in the latter-day Imperium. Such black market enterprises generally concentrate on planetary or system-wide commerce, preferring to avoid the added attention and difficulties of involving the Spacing Guild. These organizations bow to no law, and most openly defy both the CHOAM Company charter and any local or domestic legal enforcement. It is rumored that some of the boldest of these smugglers do traffic with the Guild, but such rumors cannot be confirmed. The sanctioned unit of exchange within the Imperium remains the solari, or sol. Once based on a convoluted precious metals standard, since the establishment of the Guild Bank, solaris have been valued according to the current price of the spice-drug mélange, on the Imperial CHOAM Exchange. This sets up a rather unique system of checks and balances, with the Guild controlling actual currency valuation and the Great Houses and the Emperor controlling the price of the spice. If the preeminence of Arrakis was ever in doubt following the discovery of the spice, that changed when the world became the de facto center of Imperial currency valuation. On the floor of the CHOAM Exchange and within the currency pools of the Guild Bank, stocks, notes and vouchers change hands daily, representing billions of solaris in fiscal trade. In out -freyn societies and Imperial backwaters, hard currency remains the tender of choice. On certain worlds, Houses and merchants still maintain a barter system, trading goods and services according to an accepted Sol Face (or solari face value, as it is known). While trade and commerce have become prevalent in this age of Guild transport and communication, the stranglehold enjoyed by CHOAM and the Guild over the spice ensures that modern enterprise is anything but free. Most routes and deals are scrutinized by CHOAM or Guild representatives, and enterprising merchants or Houses must satisfy their tribute to these powers above anything else.

CHOAM members

CHOAM Directors

CHOAM Director: