Moneylenders (like Devi from The Name of the Wind) should be an essential part of any rpg.

In fantasy, they can offer the coin to buy important but rare things like artifacts or a resurrection.

In sci-fi, they can help you buy a ship or extra expensive tech.

In cyberpunk, they just help with everything and anything. Loans and debt are a part of the culture.

In all games, moneylenders open the door for debts, favors, resources, hindrances, and opportunities. They let players obtain things normally out of their reach, but there are far-reaching consequences. With a moneylender, the transaction isn’t over right away.

There should be rough levels for moneylenders. The more coin they have to lend, the higher the interest and the greater their resources.

Why might the PCs turn to a moneylender?

  • To settle a debt
  • To buy a ship or other transportation in a hurry
  • To buy a rare but important spell component in a hurry
  • To make an investment expected to have a big payoff quickly

What’s the common theme? Being in a hurry. You don’t turn to a moneylender if you have a lot of time or other options. And you don’t become a moneylender if you aren’t willing to break a few heads to collect on your investment.

Moneylending is very much an investment. Moneylenders don’t do it out of the goodness of their hearts (though I suppose that would be an interesting twist), but rather for the favors, goods, or money they get in return.

What do moneylenders get in return? There are a few salacious options off the top of my head:

  • Coin
  • Souls
  • Secrets
  • True names
  • Rare or illegal items or ingredients
  • Services in kind
  • A spell cast, no questions asked
  • Access to someone or something

Moneylenders have the potential to make any transaction interesting, and you never know when one might call in a debt or favor. Best to keep your nose clean and live within your means, but, well, that wouldn’t be any fun…