Letters to the Lombards
What Wizards Do When They're in Deep Debt
Often enough, people like to ask loaded questions, such as: Why would Wizards go on Adventure? or Why does Adventuring not break the financial system of the faux medieval milieu most games are set in?
I admit, reading treatises about this can be entertaining, but it doesn't help me have a better game. I find the question of How is it that Wizards behave that money is never enough and Adventurers do not change too much of the overall status quo? slightly more interesting.
Who are the Lombards
In the author's anchor reality within the Manifold Nexus, the Lombards were Bankers and Moneylenders that dominated the financial lending system along the Rhine for around a century. They usually did short-term loans at high interest rates (usually with some deposit as a security, for example a spellbook, or a dragon's egg), but after people figured out how to do finance themselves and switched to long-term low-interest rates, the Lombards weren't welcome anymore and were driven out of the region.
Or, maybe, out of this world. And where better would they end up than in worlds that are most likely too unstable for competition to develop, and where people think that stealing the Secrets of the Cosmos is the highest form of intellectual pursuit?
So, yes, the big financiers in your fantasy world could very well be trade and finance savvy Italian-looking people. It would also improve the cuisine I guess.
Why the Letters?
Let's be honest, wizards and adventurers are terrible at paying their debts, so much that some weird people claim as their motto that they actually do so (the Lombards quickly adjusted to this reality by raising the interest rates. It still seems to be a decent business for them). But they want to placate their lenders with promises of income, riches, or at least entertaining stories, so they write them letters to make sure the Lombards remember them not only when they check for overdue payments.
Nevertheless, some of these letters get lost, stolen, mistaken for real treasure maps, falsified, and so on. You also need people that bring those letters from whatever dangerous place the adventurers and wizards are in back to the Lombards. Some henchfolk see this as a great opportunity to prove their worth to someone other than badly paying groups of never-do-wells, to escape some immediate or imagined danger, or just because they like long walks in the woods. Yeah. No.
The following pages contain some exemplary letters, which yours truly came into possession over the last years, through means which are none of your concerns. No gangs were ever hired to steal letters from well-known lenders, and no couriers were ever intercepted by shady people. I hope you enjoy them.
Putting this into rules
Alright, you do not like ingame fiction, and you do not like "pure fluff" books without rules. So you get some rules.
The three heavy handed approaches:
- Characters only level up after they've written their financier.
- Without regular reports, the money dries up, and then there's no way to pursue a far reaching adventure anymore.
- Anything the group encounters is in the quantum realm of random tables until transfixed in writing. Only the things (including rewards!) reflected in a letter to the financier gain enough substance to grant monetary rewards (or if you want to fold in the first approach, experience as well). This only works if the reports have a semblance of truth. Or wait until someone realizes their lies became reality ...
Lombard Financier Generator
Interest Rate: 25%, modified by financial background
Side Business: Some Lombard families have a side business:
- High Class Restaurant
- Hippie Clothes Store
- Book Publishing Business