Waterdeep, as per the usual, is causing a splash in markets throughout the Sword Coast. This time, however, rather than facing market disruption through innovation, the Sword Coast faces an ancient market titan that may be rising once again—Undermountain, and the treasures hidden away inside.
On the surface, Undermountain sounds too good to be true. Not only is it a tightly woven ecosystem of a variety of untouched local economies under one of the longest lasting governing bodies in all of Faerun, it also contains hidden caches of untold riches, just waiting for adventurers to find. However, due to the low survivorship rate of surface-originating parties lowered into its sprawling depths, investments involving expedition forces to Undermountain tend toward large single payouts after repeated failures on the part of the investee to return the invested principal. One attempt to use volume to smooth this extreme boom and bust behavior, the Waterdhavian Undermountain Adventuring Index (UMAI +8.95 (1.8%)⇧)—also known as the Durnan Deadman Index among the more crass—only succeeds to the extent that the market has room for quasi-suicidal adventurers. But this Index has shown a surprising trend lately—Undermountain is, once again, producing the riches for which it is famed.
The drive to invest in this new golden goose, or even participate in its excavation, may be nigh unbearable. However, before one allocates too many eggs, it is considered wise to first investigate how this event impacts surrounding markets.
It may be tempting to pass this off as yet another source of wealth in an already bloated region, but the allocation of that wealth would suggest a market shift. Adventurers, notoriously conservative with their indulgence of money to investing partners, nonetheless are known to liberally engage in trivial markets. After all, is not unheard of for a rich party of adventurers to show up at a town and entirely strip an economy clean of soap, ball bearings, basic medicinal potions, or silk rope.
First, as Waterdhavian markets grow, expect surrounding growth as well. South along the Trade Way, Daggerford could see potential growth if it can leverage this nearby boom to grow the influence of the Sword Coast Traders’ Bank (ATB +0.19 (0.2%)⇧). If the Traders’ Bank were to grow, this would serve only to accelerate the absorption of some of these funds by the bottomless pit that is Baldur’s Gate. Growth that far down the Trade Way, though, should be minimal due to private sanctions against Baldur’s Gate by the merchants’ guilds of Waterdeep.
Along the Long Road, Amphail could potentially see long term market growth, but only if word of Undermountain’s opportunity serves to significantly impact Waterdeep’s population. As the economic growth generated by expeditions to Undermountain is distributed mostly between adventurers and those that supply such people, it should not directly significantly impact bulk agricultural purchases nor the side projects of Amphail’s noble families.
The High Road trade between Waterdeep and Neverwinter, while maintaining a strong market connection in most scenarios, should not be strongly impacted by growth out of Undermountain. Regarding the swift and low-profile sale of magical artifacts and the transfer of gold to local supply markets, the Halfling phrase, “Whatever you can do, I can do better,” aptly describes Waterdeep’s strong position.
What should I expect from my other investments? Even during a gorgon market, any market that cannot associate itself with the predominant source of economic growth in a region is prone to a slow drop in value.
Should I invest in the Waterdhavian Dragon? No, but don’t short it either. The Whaterdhavian Dragon is backed by its bullion value in association with the Lord’s Alliance. If you have to take a position, shy away from the Dragon, as it may bite when clever forgers begin using them as a template to counterfeit.