I ran a Pathfinder group where the PCs were vigilantes in a city; taking on both crime and the city’s corrupt government. At one point I found a monster called a Gambling Devil that I wanted to throw at the group and since the Devil was evil, loved gambling, and could magically produce gold, I introduced the monster as follows. The PC who liked to gather information heard stories about a masked man who would show up in the dead of night at the houses of parents who were desperately poor and/or in debt and would offer to play a game of chance of their choosing. Regardless of if he won or lost he would pay off all of their debts and provide them a comfortable sum of money to live on for a while. But if he won, he would get one of the parents’ children! Most people slammed the door in his face … but every now and then people’s children would disappear and everyone whispered that they had lost a game to The Devil. The PCs were rightly angry about this and stormed into The Devil’s gambling den ready to fight, but he offered to leave the city and return the children if they could beat him in a game of chance and to my surprise the PCs agreed.The PCs cleverly used luck magic to cheat and ended up winning. After returning the children, the PCs were congratulating themselves on solving the problem when the group’s Mystic Theurge named Dante The Sexy suddenly said, “We didn’t solve the problem. The problem is poverty. That people are desperate enough to sell their children!”
This was an odd thing to hear from Dante. Dante used charisma to cast both his arcane and divine spells and had made a point of using his ridiculously high charisma to hit on every female NPC he could find.Dante was a nice enough guy, but he had never been self-sacrificing or particularly concerned for others. He had joined the group to avenge the death of his father and spend most of his time and energy trying to get laid. But as the rest of the group shrugged off his comments about poverty, he turned into a man with a purpose. The player approached me between sessions about using some of his wealth from adventuring to open a business with the express purpose of employing the impoverished parents they had met. He called his business The Handy Humanoid and it provided short term employees who could do odd jobs or help with sudden surges in business (kind of like a fantasy temp agency). He provided child care and spell casting services (most notably remove disease) to all employees and he used his ridiculously high charisma to make sure the company always had plenty of clients. As the party continued to adventure and acquire loot, he would always spend a decent portion of his wealth on expanding his company and breaking into new markets.
At the beginning of the campaign I had established that the lands surrounding the city were dangerous and few people went into them without armed escorts. So Dante convinced some of the other PCs to spend their “down time” joining him in protecting groups of his workers who would go into the forests to log or into quarries to gather stone. Occasionally I would throw random encounters at the PCs and after a random encounter with giants, Dante was able to convince the surviving giants to work for him gathering the lumber and stone. He then paid to have his former loggers and the stone gathers retrained as carpenters and stone masons and began to provide finished products.
At one point Dante secretly raised a small army of undead to farm edible underwater plants in the sea outside the city. His company would then sell them at below market prices so that he could drive down the price of food in the city.
He worked tirelessly, even going so far as to get a ring of sustenance so that he didn’t have to sleep as many hours. He eventually renamed his company Handy Humanoid Industries and as the campaign progressed it started getting more and more profitable so I tried to give him back some of the wealth he has spent on it, but he always insisted on reinvesting it or spending it on a public works project of some sort. He knew that he had less wealth than he should for his level, but he was fine with that as long as his company was healthy and helping people.
When he started the company he had asked me for an unemployment rate and every time he expanded his company I would drop it slightly. It had started at 10%, but by the end of the campaign it was below 1% and since Dante was now employing more than 9% of the population of the city, I took inspiration from Hersey Pennsylvania and Toyota City and said that the new mayor was thinking of renaming the city after him or his company.
The sentence “poverty is the problem” ended up being a defining moment for Dante, leading to a lot of character development and making him one of the most memorable PCs I have ever had in a campaign.