Why do dragons have hoards?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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I will comment I'm not a fan of dragons having *absurdly* huge hordes- stuff like the Hobbit movies where Smaug has gold *everywhere* and it'd crash gold prices across continents where it to get out.

I do like them to have valuable stuff around, but horde inflation and all. Movie-Smaug's feels like, well, someone exaggerating an actual horde for a fairy tale. Which it kinda is.


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I don't have a hoard. These obnoxious adventurers just keep coming into my house with all their trinkets and stuff and keep bothering me until they die. I take their belongings as a compensation for making me waste my time. After walking into my home uninvited and trying to kill me, what am I supposed to do? Look for their families to give all their belongings to them? I am not a charity!


Good Find.

Of course if you really follow that reasoning, all dragons, good or evil, by design ruin every other functioning civilizations' economies, steal their art, culture, and their very people to reach their potentials. Serious ick factor, but a darned good reason for dragonslayers.

Thanks for reminding me why I have so little 2e+, nonPaizo on my shelves. Trying to build a cosmology around justifying essentially arbitrary rules decisions leads to this.

Which is essentially what we are doing here isn't it. Darn, Ick.


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Not too different from a pharaoh being buried with his life belongings anyway.


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Davia D wrote:
I will comment I'm not a fan of dragons having *absurdly* huge hordes- stuff like the Hobbit movies where Smaug has gold *everywhere* and it'd crash gold prices across continents where it to get out.

It was estimated that movie-Smaug had about six times as much gold as is owned by all the humans on earth.


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We hoard that which is beautiful. You can't have too much beauty.
We hoard that which is valuable. For we have no need to spend it.
We hoard that which is powerful. A dragon's measure is of their age and of their hoard.
We hoard that which interests us. You lesser races do the same with your "hobbies".

You ask why we hoard, when you come at us bedecked in your own arsenal of enchanted items, crushing precious diamonds on a whim to cheat death.


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Dragons are guardians of the earth. You took the gold out of the earth. The dragons put it back, and make sure it stays there this time.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Dragons are guardians of the earth. You took the gold out of the earth. The dragons put it back, and make sure it stays there this time.

Yep. That checks out.


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Because we can, and the lesser pawns don't need any more justification than that.


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Maybe it's a power obsession thing. Gold is only important because it's important to humans. As a sign of your power and control, you have tribute. This makes them scared, and weaker. Sure it attracts thieves, but killing them just makes you more infamous.


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When dragons were first made their creator intended them to take over the universe, a task for which you need military might, so the dragons were told "grow strong and fierce and get yourselves VAST HORDES" (meaning armies). Unfortunately the dragons, being very young, thought they were being told "grow strong and fierce and get yourselves VAST HOARDS" (meaning treasure). So they did! Millennia later they realized their mistake, but by then it would have been far too humiliating to admit it, so they just kept on pretending they'd been doing the right thing all along.

Naturally if you ask a dragon about this they will deny it and eat you.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Because they can.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Daw wrote:
And I've always wanted a sparkly, just like That One.

Did you just make a Secret of NIMH reference?! You are my new best friend.


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Because dragons channel lantern power: Orange, greed. This is where all their magic comes from.
That is also why they rarely raise their kids, worried the kids will steal their treasures.
Even the good ones are powered by greed. That is why Copper only helps if you give them a joke.


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What if, like, it's the hoard that, like, has the dragon, man?

Think about it.


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Davia D wrote:

I will comment I'm not a fan of dragons having *absurdly* huge hordes- stuff like the Hobbit movies where Smaug has gold *everywhere* and it'd crash gold prices across continents where it to get out.

I do like them to have valuable stuff around, but horde inflation and all. Movie-Smaug's feels like, well, someone exaggerating an actual horde for a fairy tale. Which it kinda is.

It's actually based on the hoard of Fafnir from the Volsunga Saga. (Even the weak spot on Smaug's breast is based on that saga.)

Tolkien was a professor of English at Cambridge, specializing in Middle and Old English literature. He was very well acquainted with norther Germanic sagas and such (even having completed a translation of Beowulf).

Part of the Fafnir's hoard was the arm-ring, Andvarinaut, which produced a golden replica of itself every nine days, meaning the size of the hoard was only limited by the age Fafnir, who was extremely long lived, having originally been a Dverg. The hoard also included more than one named, magical sword, a suit of golden mail, and a variety of other items (depending on which version of the story you're reading).

{Hey, look, I just got to use stuff I learned with my Medieval English Lit degree....}

PS: Often, in that source material, dragons were sometimes symbols of greed. Fafnir, for example, was originally a dwarf. He changed into a dragon after extorting weregild from three Norse gods for mistakenly killing one of his brothers, and then cheating his other brother out of his split of the money.


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MageHunter wrote:
Maybe it's a power obsession thing. Gold is only important because it's important to humans. As a sign of your power and control, you have tribute. This makes them scared, and weaker. Sure it attracts thieves, but killing them just makes you more infamous.

Well, that, and gold is relatively durable in value.

I am just saying- fine silk doesn't last long around various horns, claws, and spikes, and even them, it will likely wear out in under a century.

But gold? Even if the dragon accidentally hits it with a fire breath and melts it, it is still a huge mound of gold. I am sure there are plenty of dwarves that run "Cash for Gold" places. ....wait, would that be "Gold for Gold?"General point- rare gems and metal can remain as a valid form of payment for a long, long time, and you can keep it stored under (or as) your bed.

I mean...I doubt dragons trust banks (on that note- I remember an excellent modern fantasy webcomic- Sword Interval. One of its stories has a dragon that is aiming to kill an embezzling hedge fund manager, since the dragon is smart and likes to expand his hoard through wise investments. The manager only stole like $10 from the dragon personally.... but it is the principle of the thing).


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Funny you mention dragons and banks. In Rifts, in the city of Dweomer, dragons actually opened a bank and run it. Apparently many of them learned economics and finance. It lets them grow their hoards as well. And even in a world with rail guns, who wants to rob a bank guarded and run by multiple dragons?


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Lathiira wrote:
Funny you mention dragons and banks. In Rifts, in the city of Dweomer, dragons actually opened a bank and run it. Apparently many of them learned economics and finance. It lets them grow their hoards as well. And even in a world with rail guns, who wants to rob a bank guarded and run by multiple dragons?

Player characters.


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Lathiira wrote:
Funny you mention dragons and banks. In Rifts, in the city of Dweomer, dragons actually opened a bank and run it. Apparently many of them learned economics and finance. It lets them grow their hoards as well. And even in a world with rail guns, who wants to rob a bank guarded and run by multiple dragons?

exactly- dragons don't trust banks unless they ARE the bank. and honestly, i think it might be a great place for a safety deposit box (who is going to rob the place?)

Silver Crusade

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Then there's the Dragonsbane reason: they collect gold because it resonates musically to them and is the most pleasant sound imaginable.


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Actually, the reason Dragons have hoards is painful trauma remaining from the Crash of -2793 IC, which was the REAL reason for the end of the Age of Dragons. Prior to this, Dragons had kept their savings in banks, but rampant speculation by the increasingly unruly and unruled banks caused their savings to be in fact invested in toxic assets masterminded by the Aboleth. A few tried to warn of the impending financial disaster, but were derided as ones saying that the sky is falling. Then one day the sky did fall, and all the Dragons' savings were wiped out. Since then, the surviving Dragons have never dared to trust in banks ever again . . . .


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Isonaroc wrote:
Then there's the Dragonsbane reason: they collect gold because it resonates musically to them and is the most pleasant sound imaginable.

That was a rather good book, I think.

I think I've still got it around the house somewhere...


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UnArcaneElection wrote:

Actually, the reason Dragons have hoards is painful trauma remaining from the Crash of -2793 IC, which was the REAL reason for the end of the Age of Dragons. Prior to this, Dragons had kept their savings in banks, but rampant speculation by the increasingly unruly and unruled banks caused their savings to be in fact invested in toxic assets masterminded by the Aboleth. A few tried to warn of the impending financial disaster, but were derided as ones saying that the sky is falling. Then one day the sky did fall, and all the Dragons' savings were wiped out. Since then, the surviving Dragons have never dared to trust in banks ever again . . . .

Honestly I think Dragons are too economically smart for that- they all should know if they released their gold in response to another economic event at the same time other dragons do, it'd immediately devalue the gold to a level where it'd hardly help them.

The hordes are quite useful in economic actions during a healthy economy but gold not only isn't crash proof, it's often crash sensitive.


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Have you considered that an annoyed dragon might use his ridiculous wealth to destroy the economies of countries that annoy it?

I like the subtle, powerful dragons, not the stat-block dragons.
I also think that the mountains of gold should be aberrations in the Draconic mindset.
Table styles vary of course, if the dragon is a vehicle to provide a big-loot to the party, then you really want to avoid adding depth.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Natan Linggod 327 wrote:
What's in it for them? Most are super intelligent and would know it just makes them a target for thieves and adventurers. And other dragons.

You've just answered your own question.

The hoard exists to attract attention from thieves and competitors. Why? Imagine you liked (used) bullets. You'd do something sociopathic so SWAT teams would be sent to you and you'd just collect the lead. Your house would be constantly under siege, but there'd be this awesome supply of used bullets. Since you're mostly immune to bullet wounds, this is all pretty much safe. That's the dragon perspective.

They like treasure, and the more they have of it, the more idiot adventurers and other dragons will bring. Sure, there's risk, but again, dragon perspective is one of the apex-predator. They expect to happily take whatever loot would-be thieves are carrying. Most of the time, they're right.


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dragons dont have hoards. they have museums


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Steelfiredragon wrote:
dragons dont have hoards. they have museums mausoleums.

Fixed that for you. ;)


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Dragons have hoards because they are job creators. The more wealth you give to a dragon, the more jobs are crated for the peasants


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CWheezy wrote:
Dragons have hoards because they are job creators. The more wealth you give to a dragon, the more jobs are crated for the peasants

Yeah, but the jobs are usually the same ones. 'Dragon food' and 'move of loot to the hoard'. Dragon food being the promotion of 'loot hauler'. Tends to glut the field and stagnate growth LOL


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Trickle down the digestive tract economics


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Smaug supports a return to the gold standard


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Gisher wrote:
Steelfiredragon wrote:
dragons dont have hoards. they have museums mausoleums.
Fixed that for you. ;)

nope.

they have those too

Silver Crusade

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Dragons have hordes for the same reason anyone does I suppose, to overrrun the settled nations. Wait, what were we talking about again?


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You are so funny trying to understand our minds. Let me do the opposite and try to understand the mind of an adventurer: why do adventurers risk their lives for the loot?

Most of them are rich enough to retire bjt they keep coming to kill us and steal our treasure. Do they do it for greed? Do they do it for fame or power?

To me the answer is more simple: they do it for the thrill. They are adventurers and that's what they do. Looting, increasing their power, is just a mean to keep adventuring. They don't want to be rich, they don't want to save the world (at leat not from me, I am a kinda nice dragon), they just want to experiment the thrill of the adventure. Everything else is secondary.

Ahhh, the adventurer's mind. Such unknown. If I wasn't so old, and a dragon too, I might want to be an adventurer. And hunt a dragon. That old lonely reptiles need to have some fun from time to time.


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I thought adventurers risked their lives for loot in order to get better magic gear in order to be able to kill more powerful monsters and get more loot and even better magic gear?

Which is, of course, far more sensible than snoozing on a big heap of gold.


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I don't snooze. That's boring. And that's why I don't get well with many of my peers. They love snoozing on their gold too much. Those loners. I admit I might have taken a nap or two that lasted for a few years before but that's because I'm getting old. I'd rather remain active, though. My swamp doesn't govern itself and my people would be lost without me.

But what you said makes sense. You must be a experienced adventurer. In the end, everything is reduced to more gold, more gear, more power for what? Keep adventuring. For what? More gold, more gear, more power. It's a circle. I find it amusing.


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To be honest, it's because we literally have nothing better to do. That's it. Well, that and to keep up appearances, but that's basically the same thing.


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Dragons lair inside mountains where radiation is naturally higher. Gold is an amazing shield against radiation as its about as dense as lead (but far less toxic too) and actually has the fewest naturally occurring radioisotopes of pretty much any element as it is more than 99% stable. Cancer formation increases with age of any living organism (roughly 1% per year in advanced organisms) so sleeping on a bed of gold helps drastically cut down on stress and radiation exposure, two of the most direct causes of cancer until they mature to the point they learn powerful spells like cure disease to deal with it for good.
Or because shiny things are cool. One of the two.


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Matthew has the right of it, though was overkind. Adventurers are driven, i.e. bat-s**t crazy. Some of them have it more under control than others, but you don't stay with that kind of life if you can hack it in normal society.

Now, do not print the following in the oversized, fire-proof volumes. The "classic" hoarding dragons are abberant, and are to be pitied by their healthier, non-earthbound kin. Don't get to feeling smug you humanoids, a lot of you suffer from the same malady.


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Some of the talk of investing hoards reminds me of the great dragons in shadowrun. Like Lofwyr, who used his hoard to invest in companies and became the wealthiest creature on earth.

I kind of want to run a game where the "mechant consortium" is actually just a dragon in various guises..


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Daw wrote:
Matthew has the right of it, though was overkind. Adventurers are driven, i.e. bat-s**t crazy. Some of them have it more under control than others, but you don't stay with that kind of life if you can hack it in normal society.

Or you're on some kind of larger quest or something. If you just take up "adventuring" as a career, that's kind of weird.

OTOH, many APs and campaigns of similar scope have PCs caught up in events for a couple of years at most - even if those years get them to high level. It's hardly "can't hack it in normal society".


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Matthew Downie wrote:

I thought adventurers risked their lives for loot in order to get better magic gear in order to be able to kill more powerful monsters and get more loot and even better magic gear?

Which is, of course, far more sensible than snoozing on a big heap of gold.

are you sure that dragons are not doing the same thing?

maybe the big pile of gold simply serves as a traditional method to store liquid assets before they are put to use. remember- dragons are also casters, rather than simply big lizards. maybe they keep the money on hand in case they need to buy an expensive material component, or maybe to commission a powerful magical artifact.

don't presume that dragons are not gathering power with that hoard. ask any merchant- money is its own form of power.


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Hey, I can hack in normal society... Society needs pirates, right?


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^Something to do with saving the environment, right?


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Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
We hoard that which is valuable. For we have no need to spend it.

Actually, I think it's all in here: They have hoards of gold because they have nothing to spend it on. Or maybe they can't spend it on anything, because they can't go to the market? You know, because they don't have wallets, so they can't bring their gold... And the fact that the market-square is empty as soon as they reach it.

Maybe they're employed by "the man" to keep inflation in check? Or maybe they're just very anti-consumerism?

Scarab Sages

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For the exact same reason that zombies have hordes.
Because it makes for a more interesting story.


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lemeres wrote:
maybe the big pile of gold simply serves as a traditional method to store liquid assets before they are put to use.

Have you any idea how much more dangerous the average Dragon would be with its wealth invested in a Belt, Headband, Cloak and AC booster? If they're planning to spend it, they should get on with it.


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Matthew Downie wrote:
lemeres wrote:
maybe the big pile of gold simply serves as a traditional method to store liquid assets before they are put to use.
Have you any idea how much more dangerous the average Dragon would be with its wealth invested in a Belt, Headband, Cloak and AC booster? If they're planning to spend it, they should get on with it.

Dragons that use magic items = dead party. I actually did have a DM for first edition that would give his dragons magic items to use those were scary times.


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Well, I think pretty much everyone has declared their preferences on the Thematic Characterizations of Dragons vs. Treasure Collection Points.

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