Gold pressed latinum
Ferengi Marauder fleet
The Ferengi Alliance is the official name for the Ferengi governing body, its military and its economic institutions. The Ferengi Alliance encompasses several star systems in the Alpha Quadrant, and at least one client state: the Hupyerian species’ homeworld. It is probable there are other client states who have affiliated or allied with the Ferengi based on their shared practices, such as the Dopterians, a distant cousin of the Ferengi species. The Alliance further extends its economic and commercial power well beyond its borders and regularly employ large numbers of non-Ferengi.
In theory, the Alliance is dedicated to the promotion and protection of their economic ideals and systems. While these may seem to value free market enterprise, Ferengi rules of commerce are embedded in every aspect of their life, both business and social. Extensive regulations exist to maintain the corporate-dominated status quo and prioritise the accumulation of profit, both for economic advantage and as a form of personal, secular power. While a Ferengi individual can exercise power within their government with their wealth, the Alliance practices “trickle-down economics,” a method supported by the vast majority of the Ferengi themselves. As the current Grand Nagus once said, “Ferengi laborers don’t want to stop the exploitation; they want to find a way to become the exploiters.”
Authority of the Ferengi state springs from the Ferengi Bill of Opportunities, one of several Ferengi Trade By-Laws, and the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. These documents theorize a state apparatus that exists primarily to support private industry and maximum personal profit. The Alliance itself has, in its history, vacillated between a plutocracy (rule by the rich) to kleptocracy (rule by those out for personal gain). While the Ferengi concept of “freedom” is enjoyed by Ferengi males, it translates to freedom enjoyed by those with wealth enough to exploit it. Several times it can be noted in the Rules of Acquisition that a Ferengi without profit or possession is not a Ferengi.
The result is a persistent state within the Ferengi Alliance that power, influence and opportunity are created through graft, bribery and private deals between individuals. The most important aspects of the Ferengi Alliance’s doctrines outline not regulations, but the importance of abiding by signed contracts: a deal is a deal.
The Grand Nagus
The Ferengi state resembles a Board of Directors of any large corporate conglomerate. The head of that “conglomerate” is the Grand Nagus. The current Grand Nagus is Grand Nagus Rom. While the Grand Nagus has enormous personal power to steer the Ferengi economy as a whole, their ability to enact social changes or enter into political agreement is limited. While individual businessmen go to the Grand Nagus for some of the best business opportunities, in practice the power of the Grand Nagus is blunted by the Congress of Economic Advisors and the Ferengi Commerce Authority. More than one Grand Nagus has been brought low- or even toppled- when their actions have endangered the Ferengi economy.
The Ferengi Commerce Authority
The Ferengi Commerce Authority (FCA) is the agency responsible for enforcing Ferengi law, tradition and contracts. Part judiciary, part police force, part spy ring, the FCA is run by the Board of Liquidators, a body that can summon, censure and remove a sitting Grand Nagus. Further, no sentient being may conduct business within the Ferengi Alliance or its holdings without a business or trade license issued by the FCA. In the event of financial or social “irregularities,” the FCA will send its Liquidators to enforce Ferengi law, an event that most Ferengi both fear and detest.
Lesser Authorities Within the Alliance
The FCA’s lesser governing committees include the Ferengi Trade Mission, which regulates their government business' interests with other species. There is also the Ferengi Health Commission and the Ferengi Gaming Commission; the former oversees health regulations in public life and in their businesses, and has the power to revoke a Ferengi's medical license, while the latter oversees gambling ventures. Individual regions, districts and cities are ruled by their own Naguses, who possess similar power to the Grand Nagus on this smaller sphere of influence.
The Ferengi Alliance is a capitalistic body dominated by wealthy, well-connected Ferengi males. Successful Ferengi bring profit to themselves, their families and their business partners. Advancement in the Alliance relies on who you know and how much you are willing to bribe or pay royalties to for their assistance. The Alliance is best thought of as a major mega-corporation. Greed and profit are the primary goals of the society and its members follow a social doctrine for success called the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition.
The Ferengi Alliance, while dominated by Ferengi, employs numerous allied and non-aligned species. Ferengi maintain a de facto preferred status. Hierarchies within the Alliance can be both rigid and fluid: Ferengi have potential social mobility based on their personal skill at negotiation and accumulating wealth, a trait known as, "Having the lobes for business." Ferengi advance within the Alliance through bribes, cronyism and graft.
Once a Ferengi reaches certain tiers of power within the Alliance, their influence can become both expansive and authoritative. However, the Ferengi are suspicious of tyranny and maintain check and balance systems even for their most influential. As long as a Ferengi leader is making his subordinates and clients extremely wealthy, most Ferengi are willing to put up with a great deal of abuse and look the other way.
Observers have suggested that attributing Ferengi motivation solely to latinum and profit may be an over-simplification of their society. Those who have worked alongside Ferengi report them to often be very hard-working and target-focused, identifying their goals and stopping at nothing to achieve them, even if these motivations happen to have nothing to do with profit. Ferengi certainly prize the acquisition of wealth, and it has been theorised this acts as a literal measure of success, a way their work ethic can be observed and quantified. Profit is not, these sociologists theorise, the goal itself - it is a means of measuring and publicly demonstrating meeting these goals, and Ferengi society has normalised and codified this.
Though Ferengi eagerly do business with non-Ferengi, and non-Ferengi client species of the Alliance can enjoy a profitable, bright existence, the Ferengi are at heart a conservative, tradition-bound race. Ferengi usually write Ferengi business practices into their employee contracts, forcing any non-Ferengi to adhere to them. A Ferengi measures his success not by how well he is liked by non-Ferengi, but by how well-respected (or feared) he is among his own kind. Most Ferengi prefer to deal with alien species from a position of strength or authority. While the Ferengi employ aliens in many of their enterprises, it is very rare to find Ferengi working in alien enterprises.
Despite this cultural tendency, Ferengi have opened up to other civilizations but there is still culture shock among them when they see clothed females walking around in public, unionized work forces and economies where material things are unimportant. Individual Ferengi may rate these from mildly novel to downright barbarian, but successful Ferengi businessmen put aside these preconceptions for profit.
Regulation for Profit
Virtually nothing is for free on Ferenginar or among Ferengi holdings. Entering business or government buildings requires an entry fee. Scheduling appointments with important authorities requires a fee. To expedite a service costs more. It is commonplace for discussions to be held with receptacles placed near each individual - to gain their information, one must pay a small fee within. Even entering Ferengi homes requires a small overhead paid to the family, usually at the front door. Contracts and negotiations take place at virtually every turn of Ferengi society. Contracts are the bedrock of Ferengi society and to break a contract (with another Ferengi) is considered a heinous act. Breaking contracts between non-Ferengi is still a dubious practice, but one accepted on varying terms by the Ferengi system.
An outside observer might consider the Ferengi Alliance's economy highly unregulated. In truth, the corporate regulations established by Grand Naguses and the FCA are vast, complex, and often ancient. Where other worlds and governments have applied regulations to protect workers' rights or enforce safety standards, the regulations of the Alliance exist to enforce how Ferengi do business. This not only maintains societal norms, but supports the interconnectivity of the Ferengi economy, where profit for one corporation creates opportunities for another. While a Ferengi may be lauded for great gains elsewhere in the galaxy, at least some of that wealth is expected to be seen and spent among other Ferengi; thus do the Alliance's corporate regulations encourage and sometimes force a businessman down a path that is profitable for the whole Ferengi economy as well as himself.
The systems are highly bureaucratic, forcing a Ferengi to demonstrate their wealth and 'lobes for business' when they navigate any aspect of society and denying the wealthy the chance to rest on their laurels. A young Ferengi may inherit a vast fortune, but the complex social-business practices established and maintained by the FCA and Naguses past means that if he lacks any skill in business, this will be seen and result in a loss of face - and likely, eventually, profit. Social mobility may be difficult in Ferengi society, but those at the top still have to fight to stay there.
Officially, the Ferengi Alliance declares neutrality in virtually every galactic conflict that may exist at any one time. In the realms of galactic politics, the Ferengi Alliance is solely interested in gaining profit- making enemies reduces that end-goal considerably. The Ferengi recognize that their military prowess is inferior to virtually all nearby major powers; their strength remains their economic clout.
The United Federation of Planets
Official First Contact between the United Federation of Planets and the Ferengi Alliance happened in 2364 in the Delphi Ardu system after a Ferengi Marauder stole a T-9 converter from the Federation outpost on Gamma Tauri IV.
Relations with the Federation remained tense throughout the 2360s’s and early 2370’s, largely due to the unsanctioned actions of individual Ferengi which the Federation protested. Individual member systems and Ferengi businessmen increased trade within Federation space. The Federation was forced to contend with the Ferengi more often when the Bajoran Wormhole was discovered, and the Ferengi made inroads for trade with several Gamma Quadrant species.
Rom, the current Grand Nagus of the Ferengi Alliance, favors warmer relations with the Federation but the Alliance retains it’s neutrality. Trade has become increasingly common between the two powers and Ferengi are becoming a more common sight on Federation worlds. It remains a rarity to find Ferengi in Starfleet, however, as Ferengi ideals still frequently clash with Federation and Starfleet practices.
Increased Starfleet activity in proximity to the Alliance over recent months has prompted a change in diplomatic policy for both parties. The Federation has expanded its security, exploration, and colonial ambitions in the region, and in all of these ventures they are most likely to encounter the Ferengi of any of their neighbours. Many formal and informal agreements have sprung up with the Alliance or individual Ferengi businessmen to respect Federation territory, or to lend knowledge or assistance in regions and with factions the Ferengi know better. But outside of these agreements, the Ferengi are often rivals to Starfleet, competing with them for physical resources and preferring to plunder what Starfleet would survey, exploiting Federation colonies who may benefit from Ferengi overpriced trade, or undermining Starfleet activities that come too close to infringing on their interests.
Ferengi history goes back over ten millennia, but much of their history is shrouded in legend. One of the most significant events of their early history was the creation of the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition by Gint and the merging of business and political philosophies into the office of the Grand Negus.
Upon the evolution of their commerce-intensive society they purchased warp drive, according to rumors, from the Breen Confederacy and began to expand their commercial interests. In 2355, a Starfleet vessel encountered the Ferengi traveling through the Maxia Zeta system. The vessel was attacked by an unidentified ship damaging shields and forcing the captain to perform a maneuver in which the vessel jumped into high warp, making it appear to the attackers that the ship was in two places at once. During the confusion the captain issued the order to destroy the enemy vessel, but the damage to the vessel was extensive and the crew abandoned the vessel.
Official first contact between the United Federation of Planets and the Ferengi occurred finally in 2364 in the Delphi Ardu system, where a Ferengi vessel and the Federation vessel were trapped in orbit by a derelict outpost of the ancient Tkon Empire.
Though the Ferengi carry little military might, their influence can be found across the galaxy as merchants, arms dealers, and information brokers. Through the Ferengi, the Federation were able to learn much about the Dominion before the War. The Ferengi continue to play a part in today's political affairs, selling information to the highest bidder. It does not scare the Ferengi that they share borders with the Breen Confederacy and the Federation. After all, it's just good business.
The Alliance maintains a military which consisted mostly of D'Kora Class vessels; heavily armed and armoured trade vessels. These are better known as 'Marauders' by those outside the Alliance, as while they are most often engaged to aggressively protect business interests, pre-emptive strikes and jealous guarding of shipments in the most dangerous regions of space has been easily misconstrued. However, where Ferengi have conducted outright raids and actions other governments would deem piracy, the D'Kora class are indeed the most often-used ships.
Each ship is captained by a DaiMon, who has purchased a contract to operate the vessel on behalf of the FCA in exchange. This gives the DaiMon prime opportunities to take assignments that will bring profit to the Ferengi Alliance, including being given authorisation to conduct trade negotiations on behalf of the Alliance, and in return they keep a comfortable percentage. So long as a DaiMon follows the regulations on how a Ferengi ship must be run and brings back a profit, he enjoys a vast freedom in selecting his assignments and how he operates a powerful warship with the backing of the Alliance. This has led to the Ferengi military becoming a complicated network where a DaiMon's relationship with others are key to securing the biggest successes with the greatest cooperation, but each inevitably compete on some level for a bigger share of the profit.
Formally, the DaiMons answer to the Grand Nagus himself. In practice, multiple wealthy and powerful DaiMons conduct their assignments as they see fit, justifying their actions either by bringing back enormous wealth for the Alliance or pursuing the interests of a member of the FCA who will cover their backs. With Grand Nagus Rom struggling to assert personal control over the military and the recent uprising of the galactic powers, many Ferengi ships have been designed, constructed, refitted and retrofitted with more combat-based technologies to pursue the agendas of these powerful DaiMons.
The management of the military is likely responsible for many of Starfleet's early misconceptions of the nature of the Ferengi. The Alliance early on identified the Federation's moneyless economy, finding it unfathomable. The Grand Nagus of the time sought to exploit this incomprehensible enemy by conducting a disinformation campaign as to be equally incomprehensible. This took the form of a large military buildup and the sanctioning of the spread of malicious rumours, so as when formal contact was established, it happened from a position of strength. While the Federation has largely corrected its view of Ferengi over decades of interactions, elements of this misunderstanding remains, such as the continued use of the 'Marauders' colloquialism to refer to their ships.
The Ferengi Alliance in Play
- The Ferengi Alliance has no interest in military conquest. If they claim a system, it is for the purposes of resource exploitation or salvage operations.
- The Ferengi Alliance maintains its neutrality in all armed conflicts, though it will engage in economic warfare to leverage better negotiating positions. Individual Ferengi may take sides and sell products for profit.
- The Ferengi have a robust interest in opening negotiations with Delta Quadrant species and have been petitioning the Federation for more access to the Barzan wormhole.
- Sale of Borg technology has become a thorny issue among Ferengi businessmen and the other galactic powers. The Alliance continues to maintain its neutrality and disavows any transactions where the parts seem illicit. However, the Alliance continues to support salvage rights for any technology that they may encounter- including Borg technology.
- The Ferengi have only had limited success in infiltrating the Romulan Factions, particularly the Romulan Free State. Much of their success has been among resource-starved colony worlds which need the assistance.
- Increased Starfleet presence in proximity to Alliance space has caused a change in the immediate relationship. While formal relations with the Federation thus remain friendly, individual encounters with Ferengi on the border can be unpredictable as the Ferengi will do whatever is most profitable for them: help Starfleet for the right price, or undermine them as competitors.