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Friday, August 5, 2016

The Pawnbroker Part Deux: An Unusual Magical Option

IN Part 1 we discussed the basics of some fun...

I’ve found it fairly true that most folks who visit a Pawnshop walk through the door already in a bad mood, at least those looking to sell an item or take a loan.  Why?  Well, they need money.  It’s not hard to figure out really.  Folks who are down on their luck, who don’t have the rent money, who haven’t eaten in awhile...these are frequently people who find themselves standing in a pawnshop.

What I've done is created a scenario in order to convert that negative energy combined with the signing of a magical pact (the loan) as a conduit to channel and convert Soul Energy (call it whatever you like) into raw Magical Energy that the Pawnbroker takes a piece of…

You’s all one big DEAL really..One giant Loan Agreement.

Let me be a bit more specific…

A very long time ago (in my game world), a middling sorcerer managed to tap into a realm near his own, one comprised of a species of hyper-magical creatures that feed on the energy of human/demi-human souls.  Once consumed by these creatures, the waste product created is magic, which accounts for some of the magic in the game world.

This sorcerer struck a deal with these soul-consuming creatures, and thus became the first Pawnbroker, at least the first pawnbroker to utilize the loan pact as a soul-stealing device where the hyper-magical creatures return pure magical energy to the writer of the loan, in this case, the Pawnbroker.

The details:

A loan is written.

The loan will need to be registered in a log, a Book of Pawns, where the pawnbroker will write the item and description, the amount loaned and amount to repay, and the date of the loan.  He will then present the book to the customer, who will need to sign (or make their mark) in order to register the loan.  This signature ‘Locks’ the loan in the Book of Pawns, and a magical link is created between the Pawnbroker, the Book, and the Customer.  It’s like a deal with the devil, only the customer has no clue that there is anything beyond the material world occurring.

Now, if the customer redeems the loan in good time, there is no negative consequence.  The deal/pact is complete, all monies are paid and goods return to the original owner.  The small magical mark placed on the customer’s soul dissolves into ether.  It’s over.

If, however, the customer defaults on the loan, the item becomes the property of the Pawnbroker, and the piece of the soul that is required by the loan (again, of which the customer is unaware) will detach and convey itself to the Book, to then cross over and become sustenance for those hyper-magical creatures discussed earlier.  The Magic ‘runoff’ of that consumption then is channeled back into the Book, and can be manipulated by the Pawnbroker in a number of ways including use as spell power, crafting magical items, or recharge current magical items that require it.

The Book

The Pawnbrokers Book, for those true practitioners of this ancient and secret art, is the key.  It is the conduit through which defaulted loans will flow out to those hyper-magical folks (I’ve never named them, feel free to send me your ideas) and also it’s how the magical ‘runoff’ is made available to the Pawnbroker.

To take it a step further, perhaps the Pawnbroker can offer this ‘soul loan’ to certain ‘wealthier’ clients who need more than a substantial cash loan.  Of course, the size of the loan may dictate a large piece of soul consumed, up to and including the entire thing.  I think such deals would generate a great deal of magical ‘profit’ for the Pawnbroker in this instance.

What would you call this?  Pawnomancy? Loaniturgy? Hock Magic?  Well, no matter what you call it, I would say that it’s a magical tradition all it’s own, with training and learning specific to these pawnbrokers.  It’s not an art that can be discussed openly, so it will likely mean that no community exists to support it.  A Pawnbroker would need to find and train an apprentice in secrecy.

The skills taught would be both Arcane and Business oriented.  Running a pawnshop certainly requires its own set of skills, and has quite a long tradition/history.  More often than not, Pawnbrokers train their sons, much like any other person with a business or this case it would be both.

Other Magical Pawnshop Options

There are many ways to Magicalize your Pawnshop without so extreme a situation as the one I’ve outlined above.  A few examples might be:

  • Pawnshop is a secret purveyor of magic items
  • The Pawnbroker is not human, but demonic, devil, etc. in human guise
  • The Pawnshop is not a static affair, but a trans-spatial or trans-dimensional place that appears randomly or when needed
  • The Pawnshop need Adventurers to undertake quests magical or mundane

You see where I’m going with this...the Pawnshop can be both a prop or a hub in any campaign.


  1. In olden times, an idea as creative and potentially campaign-changing as this would appear in Dragon magazine or, more recently, appear as a sourcebook. I hope it is getting some attention around the Interwebz, as I have been mostly offline the last few days. I don't know when I'll use this in my Greyhawk campaigns actively (as it would depend on PCs needing to venture there) but I plan on inserting Hushstep and Fasir into Greyhawk City proper, unless I am able to place them in another appropriate city sooner. Consider the NPCs and pawnbroker "rules" yoinked!

    1. Wow! High praise indeed. Thanks, and yeah...have fun with it. There's plenty more weird and wonderful NPC's in my 'library'. Maybe I will put together a small PDF with all the Pawnbroker stuff I've amassed...thanks for the idea!