Content of the article: "Conundrum of Currency 3: Now with 100% more dragons."
This is mostly an addendum to the Conundrum of Currency 2. It came to be partly because of a conversation my group had on the subject of dragon bankers a few months ago, as well as a recent comment on the last post reminding me of the topic.
A bank is nothing if not someone with a lot of money intent on making even more money. You know who else fits those criteria? Dragons. The greedy hoarders who always want more. This makes dragons great candidates for running banks as a way of increasing their own hoards while just lazily sitting on their piles of gold as they are wont to do.
However different dragons think differently, so let us analyze how each of them would work, from lawful loaners to entropic entrepreneurs.
As the Monster's Manual puts it:
Chromatic dragons lust after treasure, and this greed colors their every scheme and plot. They believe that the world's wealth belongs to them by right, and a chromatic dragon seizes that wealth without regard for the humanoids and other creatures that have "stolen" it. With its piles of coins, gleaming gems, and magic items, a dragon's hoard is the stuff of legend. However, chromatic dragons have no interest in commerce, amassing wealth for no other reason than to have it.
Before someone says "but that last sentence means they don't trade," let me explain it a little better. An old saying among economists is that "money is only as good as what you can buy with it". Dragons ignore this, because they don't buy things with their gold. This does not mean they're against using money to make money, but rather that they are against using it for the sake of using it. Humans save for the sake of future consumption, chromatic dragons save for the sake of saving. No spending, only investing.
Black dragons don't amass wealth, they amass magic items from empires they hope to outlast. The more civilizations they outlive, the better they feel about themselves. While a black dragon might have some money, its chaotic evil nature and tendency to not prioritize high liquidity<1> assets makes them unlikely to get into banking.
If a black dragon were to run any business, it would be a history museum. Get the hoard to generate revenue, while feeding its ego by showing it off, and still keeping it safe.
Blue dragons are some of the most likely to run banks. They're lawful, they collect worthy
employees minions, and they covet gems which are still pretty liquid assets. Blue dragons actually pay their minions for services that help increase the hoard, normally trading a few gems for several works of art by hiring painters and sculptors. Hiring accountants instead is a very small change from they standard modus operandi.
However, keep in mind a blue dragon's lair has regional effects like constant thunderstorms and such. As a result the hoard/headquarters should be pretty isolated in a desert, while branches of the bank are placed in inhabited areas.
Green dragons are manipulators. They corrupt individuals by offering them what they want the most and playing off their fears. Their hoards are measured in subjects rather than goods, though they do keep some gems and works of art around.
Great for running a BBEG corporation, particularly law firms<2>, but not quite natural bankers.
Arrogant evil lizards who take what they want by force, red dragons are unlikely to perform deals of any type. Not only that, but they know the story of every coin in their hoard and refuse to part with any of it. Think of red dragons as the Ironborn from Game of Thrones: one coin earned by plunder is worth more than any amount of coins earned via trade.
Oh, and their minions are kept by threat and coercion, making them horrible employees.
If a red dragon ran a "business," it'd just be a raiding crew. At best he'd act like a loan shark, burninating your whole countryside, peasants and people if you skip a payment.
With negative intelligence at all ranks but Ancient, white dragons are not exactly the entrepreneurial type. Their personality is also not exactly business-oriented: White dragons are nothing but vengeful, having an extraordinary memory for any slight it suffers.
In my personal opinion, white dragons are the least interesting ones. I'm eagerly waiting for someone to prove me wrong however.
A metallic dragon can be persuaded to part with an item in its hoard for the greater good. However, another creature's need for or right to the item is often unclear from the dragon's point of view. A metallic dragon must be bribed or otherwise convinced to part with the item.
Another interesting quirk of metallic dragons is that they often go out of their way to acquire dangerous artifacts in order to safeguard them, even buying said artifacts. This is important not only because of the plot hooks it enables<3>, but more importantly because it opens a precedent: Metallic dragons can and will give up part of their hoard for the greater good.
In other words, give it enough of a sob story and you've got a pretty good chance of getting a good dragon to forgive your debt. That'll drive them out of business real quick. It's probably best if there's a middleman between entrepreneurial dragons and their needier clients.
Brass dragons are glorified gossipers. They kidnap people to talk to them, and keep around sentient items and genie lamps just for chatting.
Not prone to banking, these chaotic gossipmongers could only work, if anything, as information brokers. Even if the dragon lacks the information you need, he probably has a magic mirror, sentient sword or bottled devil who does.
Bronze dragons are traders and mercenaries at heart. They visit ships as animals to find desireable items, then trade with the sailors for them. They also fight for payment in wars, but only if they believe to be fighting for the right side.
In other words, they're of a "greedy good" alignment; and probably have their fingers in all kinds of pies. Good candidate running for president? Probably got at least one bronze donor. A troll is refurbishing his toll bridge? Could probably get a loan. And since our bronzy boyes are effectively mercenaries, they might even spearhead their own mercenary companies before settling on a lair.
On one hand, copper dragons love metal and ores, which makes them great hoarders of coins and bullion. On the other hand, they don't show off their money and are the least greedy of dragons. These chaotic lizards can probably be convinced to invest their hard-earned hoards into something, but are not prone to start a venture by themselves.
If i had to make a copper dragon investor in my game, he'd be the high-risk, high-reward guy. The NPC who funds expeditions to faraway realms, new colonies, etc. Always putting his money to the betterment of humanoid life, while giving a chance to those scorned by normal investors.
The greediest of good dragons, the gold ones keep their gold in vaults and leave their lairs to "patronize honest businesses and lend a helping hand in unseen ways". That, my dear reader, is your ideal banker. They are interested in helping people without putting themselves out there, while still making money for themselves. And if someone comes with a sob story trying to erase their debt, sorry buddy, I'm lawful and you signed a contract.
Gold dragons are the kind of entity who would come to a war-ravaged village and provide loans to get the local economy back on track and prevent starvation, or provide microcredit to small businesses everywhere.
Much like black dragons, silver ones only really care about an object's historical value. They're known to hard the preserved remains of known individuals<>, WHOLE MONOLITHS and other weird relics. On the bright side, they do keep a fair amount of silver coins around. Unfortunately they also collect coins from different mints, kingdoms and periods, so getting a silver dragon to part with his money might be harder than expected.
Unlike black dragons however, silver ones spend a lot of time in human form. So not only would a silver dragon run a museum, it would also sit around chatting with people and giving tours.
<1> Liquidity = how easily you can convert one asset into money or other goods. Money is perfectly liquid, gems and stocks are pretty liquid, real estate is not liquid at all.
<2> Law firms are all about threatening people with litigation and forcing them to take deals. Green dragons are all about intimidating people and manipulating them with their deepest fears. A match made in Baator.
<3> Now just imagine someone auctioning a super evil item only to find out half the bidders are shapeshifted dragons, each unaware of the others. Plus the usual stuff like metallic dragons sending the players to retrieve this stuff, or if players have already acquired an evil relic they could be accosted by good dragons.
<4> Great, now i want to run a corpse heist where players need to retrieve a body for resurrection. And the silver dragon is all like "but he's just going to die again anyway, and i might not get the body back next time".
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