Let’s explore a different kind of topic today; DM’s and Banking in a fantasy setting
In the exciting RPG fantasy words of games like D&D and Pathfinder, there are so many things in an expansive campaign setting to keep your players attention that the last thing on anyone’s mind is banking. But let’s get real. Especially once a party gets to 10th level and beyond, the reality of the amount of gold that some parties just carry around is more fantasy than the spells and magic items. The fact that I have some characters totting around thousands of gold sometimes, it just boggles the imagination. In real life, although I understand this is fantasy, a person carrying around that much gold should catch the attention of someone fully able to relieve them of that burden,
But that leaves us with a quandary. What DO we do with all of that gold? And, not just gold, but magic items, random armors and weapons, art and gems of all types…it’s just unrealistic even for a fantasy setting. Now, many DMs (myself, at times included) sweep this under the rug and all of that cacophony of wealth is relegated to a simple page among the character’s info sheets or on some file in the tablet.
But, if you’re running a fully submersive campaign setting, you want to cover all of your bases. So, if you take the matter seriously, you have a few options besides simply ignoring the problem.
- Create a comprehensive banking system
Now, as a DM, you can make this as simple or complicated as you want. It can be as simple as having branches in all of the major cities where you can access what you deposit. The player can deposit in one city and use an extradimensional safety deposit box to access their spoils. This could work without the complications of a structure.
If you want to create a more concrete and realistic mechanic, you can develop an organization behind the banking along with on going NPCs, Patrons and, even, a nemesis or two. (Maybe check out our Character Refererance on Aetris an arcane banker)
Banking as a natural outcropping of the growth of the civilization of your fantasy setting can take many different forms. Most banks rose during medieval times engineered by powerfully rich families to better manage and invest the wealth of a kingdom. Once the power shifted from kings and priests, the wealthy families like the Medici’s of Florence, Italy stepped into the void. To begin with, not many loans or investments reached out from the family structure, but, as kingdoms became empires, they found more and more of a need to offer loans outside of their kin.
So, one structure for your banking structure could be like most after the feudal system faded away. Powerful families, most of them nobles and merchants, controlled the flow of gold. So, decide who those people are and outfit your banking system.
You could just as easy take the next step and have the bank by a MERCHANT BANK, created by the powerful merchants to fund the growth of commerce in the city or kingdom. This would be probably run by a council of the leading merchants or can be elected by the accepted merchants in the realm.
Another power structure you can use is the CHURCH or TEMPLE hierarchy. One example to study as an example is from the world of Magic the Gathering. One of the guilds that make up the structure of Ravnica is the Orzhov Syndicate. This guild works as both the official church AND bank of that plane. This brings a whole new layer to the idea. You take the heart of the bank from the opulent nobles and self-serving merchants to the otherworldly minded clerics.
Here banking is a spiritual thing. As DM, you can make it a positive outlet to protect the wealth of those who have earned it as an outreach; creating a better city/state. It can also be cumbersome entity like the Orzhove Syndicate where having a happy life is forever linked to how much you ‘deposit’ into the church.
A third entity to control the banking system is that of a BANKING GUILD. You will find your best example in the setting of Eberron. The House Kundark on this world which carries the Mark of Warding handles the banking industry along with security issues of all types. They use their knack for protection magic and warding against unwanted teleportation and long distance scrying to keep the gold under anti-magic lock and key.
Even if you only take House Kundark as an example, Dwarfs are a natural fit for bankers seeing that the origin of the need for the bank is an amassing of wealth and Dwarfs are known for their mining of precious metals, gems and ores. It would not be a stretch for them to have created the bank to protect these assets; creating along the way (in a way quite unique to Dwarfs) the means to seal the wealth away from prying fingers and eyes.
Another not so obvious fit for bankers and legal types of any sort are the infernal blooded. As discussed in the CHARACTER REFERENCE article, although tieflings, at first, seems a bad fit, once you take their natural inherited tendencies into account, it all makes since. In fact, it wouldn’t be far from the perfect fit for Devils who are, at least, lawful and, therefore, ordered and organized. As long as you keep a trusted lawyer type handy to dig through the legalize to protect you from an unforeseen loophole.
- If you really don’t want to put in the time and effort to keep a whole organized banking system, it may be best to encourage the players to invest in property and minions to protect their investment.
If the party finds themselves with a windfall and no outlet to utilize it or store it, they can create their own.
In fact, property is one of the last thoughts but best investments in D&D. With a castle, keep, tavern or a structure of any type, your party becomes more and more ‘settled’ into their world. It makes them suddenly more a part of this world than ever before. It gives them a place to return to; a place to call…home.
Also, with land and structure comes standing in the realm.
The party makes their mark, for good or ill. They become a part of that realm, city, country or nation. With property comes standing and can take a ragtag group of adventures to a seat at the table of legislature, politics and control.
If that doesn’t appeal to your party, maybe just having a structure where you can secure the things you procure during your travels will be enough. You can build a secure structure and pay a standing guard to keep most fingers out of your wealth.
- If you are unable to secure what you have within a keep with a paid militia enough to feel that it’s safe, invest in a bag of holding or other extradimensional space and keep it secret. A certain bit of wealth can be kept within a bag of holding. You can carry it with you and most people cannot get to it.
If that doesn’t make you feel save enough, pay the big bucks and invest in an extra dimensional space of your own. One of my characters bought one. It is simply a door that he secured on his ship that, once unlocked, leads to a piece of planar property with a small keep to store contraband and any form of wealth or items you want to keep out of general knowledge. Even, if they steal the door, they cannot gain access to the extradimensional space.
I added a professional company that deals in extra dimensional places to hide away all sorts of things. That way, you have someone to go to if you there are any problems accessing it.
- As far as I can tell, besides the above, the only other alternative is for the character and/or party to find a downtime activity to invest in. Instead of pouring all of that here, we will deal with a few of these in the near future.
AS ALWAYS, you are as much a part of THE MAGIC TAVERN as we are. Please leave some comments as to what your party has done in the past or suggestions as to other options as to what to do with your gold. Find us at the social media links at the top of the page and let us know!