Why do dragons have hoards?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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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.

And what did they do before the advent of humanoid civilization? There weren't any coins back then, what did they hoard?


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It's all about domination, IMHO.

How do you get a hoard if you are a dragon?:
-You loot it from adventurers who want you dead. Then you are powerful.
-People from nearest towns pays it as a tribute so you protect them or just don't kill them. You are respected and feared.
-People might offer it as a sign of worship or respect. You are loved/respected/seen as almost a god or a good portent.

That means that no matter how the dragon got its hoard, it is a sign of power. The dragon with the biggest hoard is the most powerful. Like a sign of status.


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If I'm remembering correctly in 2nd edition in order for a dragon to advance in age category in addition to years acquired they needed a minimum level of wealth in their hoard. So if you wanted to go from young adult to adult you better invest.


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~innocent look~ Because we are pack rats?


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Dragons the OG hoarders.


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It is an OCD thing for dragonkind.
It isn't always treasure hoards in the classic sense.
^_^ The Dragon of Queen Anne Hill collects Magic Cards


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There was an old animated movie The flight of dragons. That justified it by saying if dragons slept on hay they would burn it all up and iron was to hard so gold being a soft metal was perfect to sleep on. Bigger dragons need more bedding.


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
If I'm remembering correctly in 2nd edition in order for a dragon to advance in age category in addition to years acquired they needed a minimum level of wealth in their hoard. So if you wanted to go from young adult to adult you better invest.

That was a new rule introduced in Council of Wyrms. As good a reason as any though.


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It's probably all about sex. As Kileanna said, a large hoard is a status symbol, a sign of power. Thus dragons could select who they mate with on the basis of hoard size. The bigger the hoard = the more powerful the mate = the better the offspring.


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Another possibility, by way of a reverse-engineered tactic:

there are several different spellcasters that use wealth as their source of power, all of them resulting in arcane spells. The strongest dragons (with the biggest hoards) are also capable of casting arcane spells. The hoards may be why.


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Decimus Drake wrote:
It's probably all about sex. As Kileanna said, a large hoard is a status symbol, a sign of power. Thus dragons could select who they mate with on the basis of hoard size. The bigger the hoard = the more powerful the mate = the better the offspring.

"Ey baby! Wanna come back to my cave and check out my ... wealth?"


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Natan Linggod 327 wrote:
Decimus Drake wrote:
It's probably all about sex. As Kileanna said, a large hoard is a status symbol, a sign of power. Thus dragons could select who they mate with on the basis of hoard size. The bigger the hoard = the more powerful the mate = the better the offspring.
"Ey baby! Wanna come back to my cave and check out my ... wealth?"

Isn't that pretty well how humans do it too?


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Healthy dragons are shiny. Gold is shiny. Probably the gold stimulates the dragon nicely, rather like the beetles who try to mate with beer bottles, or humans who spend far too much time on the shadier parts of the net.

A slight variation on Decimus' answer.


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That idea ties in nicely with the mating.

Silver Crusade

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber
Natan Linggod 327 wrote:
"Ey baby! Wanna come back to my cave and check out my ... wealth coin collection?"


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Easiest way to get food to self deliver to your cave

Much lower maintenance than a princess


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Dragons hoard more than just gold. Magic items, scrolls, wands, and other such things are still useful for dragons.


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I heard it said once that old dragon myths embodied each of the Seven Deadly Sins, explains the boards and maiden "eating."


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Because we have a deep need for ... Oh Look! SHINY THING.


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And I've always wanted a sparkly, just like That One.


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Java Man wrote:

I heard it said once that old dragon myths embodied each of the Seven Deadly Sins, explains the boards and maiden "eating."

Dragons have long been tied to at least Greed - back to the earliest legends.

I get that we're trying to come up with practical reasons for many things that existed for symbolic ones in myth and legend, but I'm not sure that's always a profitable task.


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Practical, hmmm, maybe it's for a dietary supplement? Not much is needed, but with a lifespan as long as theirs they like to plan ahead.


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An evil dragon knows from birth that all of the shinies belong to it, while a good dragon knows from birth that the shinies must be kept safe, and it is the best custodian to do so.

The neutral dragon falls somewhere in between, of course.

Just what form "shinies" takes may change from dragon to dragon.

But yeah, dragons actually have prescriptive alignment, which probably factors into their hoarding tendencies.

Grand Lodge

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thorin, from The Hobbit, on Dragon hoarding:

Thorin wrote:
Dragons steal gold and jewels, you know, from men and elves and dwarves, wherever they can find them; and they guard their plunder as long as they live (which is practically forever, unless they are killed), and never enjoy a brass ring of it. Indeed they hardly know a good bit of work from a bag, though they usually have a good notion of the current market value; and they can’t make a thing for themselves, not even mend a little loose scale of their armor.

Perhaps it's just a compulsion they have.

-Skeld


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Natan Linggod 327 wrote:
What's in it for them?

Money can be exchanged for goods and services: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgct3Jn8pFA


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Jim Landon wrote:
Natan Linggod 327 wrote:
What's in it for them?
Money can be exchanged for goods and services: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgct3Jn8pFA

And yet, you rarely see dragons wandering down Main Street with a giant sack full of gold and rare objects looking to buy.

They're more likely to descend on Main Street, burn the place to the ground and fly off with the less flammable valuables.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Why?

Because.


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From the dragon:

That's the difference between you and me. You want something done, you get dressed up and go to town, and see if you can find a merchant who can get you what you need.

I on the other hand, let it be known that there is something I want, and am willing to pay well for it, and the merchants and craftsmen all come running to me to compete for my favor.


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thejeff wrote:
Java Man wrote:

I heard it said once that old dragon myths embodied each of the Seven Deadly Sins, explains the boards and maiden "eating."

Dragons have long been tied to at least Greed - back to the earliest legends.

I get that we're trying to come up with practical reasons for many things that existed for symbolic ones in myth and legend, but I'm not sure that's always a profitable task.

Yeah.... the oldest (surviving) dragon in Germanic tradition is from Beowulf, and even then, the dragon had a hoard, a fact which was well-understood to the audience and which required no explanation.

I don't actually buy the "dragons embodied each of the Seven Deadly Sins" for a number of reasons, most of which is that there are other monsters that tend to embody different sins (although dragons are great monsters to symbolize Avarice), but also for the same reason -- dragons go back at least to Beowulf and hence predate Germanic Christianity.

As long as we're sharing false origin stories, though, I read an interesting one suggesting that "hoarding" was actually the origin of dragons. In Old Germanic culture, gold was something that circulated -- the king was called, literally, "ring-giver," because he gave his wealth away to his loyal retainers. A person who did not share his wealth in this way would be transformed into a dragon as his external form grew to match his greedy, draconic heart.

I've even heard it suggested that the words "hoard" and "treasure" were opposites -- "treasure" was something that circulated (like Beowulf Ring-giver's rings) while a "hoard" was something secret that dragons and draconic-hearted people kept to themselves. This is obviously false, because "treasure" is not a German word (it derives from Old French, from Latin, and eventually from Greek), but it's another useful way to interpret origin myths.

As Barry Hughart put it, "fable has strong shoulders that can carry more truth than fact can."


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Daw wrote:

From the dragon:

That's the difference between you and me. You want something done, you get dressed up and go to town, and see if you can find a merchant who can get you what you need.

I on the other hand, let it be known that there is something I want, and am willing to pay well for it, and the merchants and craftsmen all come running to me to compete for my favor.

the dragon doesn't even need the underwear


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Orfamay Quest wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Java Man wrote:

I heard it said once that old dragon myths embodied each of the Seven Deadly Sins, explains the boards and maiden "eating."

Dragons have long been tied to at least Greed - back to the earliest legends.

I get that we're trying to come up with practical reasons for many things that existed for symbolic ones in myth and legend, but I'm not sure that's always a profitable task.

Yeah.... the oldest (surviving) dragon in Germanic tradition is from Beowulf, and even then, the dragon had a hoard, a fact which was well-understood to the audience and which required no explanation.

I don't actually buy the "dragons embodied each of the Seven Deadly Sins" for a number of reasons, most of which is that there are other monsters that tend to embody different sins (although dragons are great monsters to symbolize Avarice), but also for the same reason -- dragons go back at least to Beowulf and hence predate Germanic Christianity.

Dragons go back to Greek legends as well and are already associated with treasure - though more in the context of guards than hoarding for themselves, I think.

There's also Fafnir, in Norse myth, a greedy dwarf who became a dragon as he hoarded his stolen gold. Which may be tied to the Germanic origin of dragons you mention.

And then there are the Eastern dragons who aren't tied to the same kinds of greed/hoard legends at all, but have influenced our modern fantasy ideas of dragons.


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Dragons need it to live, obviously. They breathe gold through their skin, you know.


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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I think it is because they don't always know what to spend their wealth on. They don't need enchanted weapons, except to walk around in humanoid form, so they just rest and try and think of something that they would buy.

Though now, if I put a dragon into a game, I think it would be fun to have a massive hoard of feather tokens (tree) as his bed...


Ya'll are reading way to much into it. :P

In Pathfinder Dragons (and their hoards) are simply tools for the GM to control Wealth to Experience ratio of the Player Characters. In order words, adventurers encounter Dragons with hoards of treasure to make up for all the other monsters they've already encountered that didn't have any treasure at all.

Silver Crusade

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Valamuur wrote:
I think it is because they don't always know what to spend their wealth on. They don't need enchanted weapons, except to walk around in humanoid form, so they just rest and try and think of something that they would buy.

I dunno, a gargantuan +5 adaptive cruel holy/unholy human bane seeking composite longbow would be fun to play around with.

Honestly a Pathfinder dragon of significant age would have a ludicrous amount of personal gear to make them more formidable. Whole clouds of ioun stones (or a large amount of implanted ones), full sets of gear, custom made dragon armor, etc.

EDUT:

Cantriped wrote:
Ya'll are reading way to much into it. :P

Well, yeah, that's kinda the point. It can be fun to read too much into things.


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Inspired possibly by the Hobbit. Smaug sleeping on his coins would definitely be something to inspire the devs of the original version of D&D.

Silver Crusade

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Max walking along Fury Road wrote:
Inspired posdibly the Hobbit. Smaug slerping on his coins would definitely be someyhing tp inspire the devs of the original version of D&D.

Well, as has been said, dragon hoards existed as a concept for centuries.


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In pathfinder, part of it is probably convenience. Most Dragons are defended against anyone who would attack their home, but leaving a corpse bedecked with spiky armor and weapons in the path would mean risking the equivalent of stepping on a Lego so they are gonna pull it to the side. Now, the could go and sell it, but they don't need anything they can't get themselves. Plus they'd need to lug it out of their lair, fly several miles to a town, and either deal with an army of peasants foolishly trying to attack them (most will be stopped by DR) or shape shift compromising their draconic pride by assuming a lesser form. The end result is just more coins or jewels they don't really need. And its not like they need money to pay rent or buy food or anything.

Meanwhile, they jealously guard it because of everyone who tries to take their money dies horribly and vaguely, only a relatively small number of heroes will bother them. If anyone could, they'd never catch a break as everyone and their mother would be marching in on them. Add to that the additional motives of sex and power (as stated above) and the fact that trading gold for favors with nearby townships might be important every few centuries (motives would vary depending on personality) and having a hoard is generally just more practical than not having a hoard.

Sovereign Court

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Cantriped wrote:

Ya'll are reading way to much into it. :P

In Pathfinder Dragons (and their hoards) are simply tools for the GM to control Wealth to Experience ratio of the Player Characters. In order words, adventurers encounter Dragons with hoards of treasure to make up for all the other monsters they've already encountered that didn't have any treasure at all.

Max walking along Fury Road wrote:
Inspired possibly by the Hobbit. Smaug sleeping on his coins would definitely be something to inspire the devs of the original version of D&D.

Yep, and Yep.

Dragon hoard stories predate Tolkien, but to say D&D dragons are based on pre-Tolkien mythos rather than Smaug is to say D&D elves are based on classical mythic "Aelfs" rather than Legolas.


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deusvult wrote:
Cantriped wrote:

Ya'll are reading way to much into it. :P

In Pathfinder Dragons (and their hoards) are simply tools for the GM to control Wealth to Experience ratio of the Player Characters. In order words, adventurers encounter Dragons with hoards of treasure to make up for all the other monsters they've already encountered that didn't have any treasure at all.

Max walking along Fury Road wrote:
Inspired possibly by the Hobbit. Smaug sleeping on his coins would definitely be something to inspire the devs of the original version of D&D.

Yep, and Yep.

Dragon hoard stories predate Tolkien, but to say D&D dragons are based on pre-Tolkien mythos rather than Smaug is to say D&D elves are based on classical mythic "Aelfs" rather than Legolas.

I mean, yes, but.

Tolkien himself was drawing on exactly those legends, so saying "because Tolkien" may be true, but doesn't really say anything more than "because Gygax" - just stops the inquiry one step further back. (Also, is it even true? Are there other dragon hoard sources in Appendix N that Gygax might have been drawing on?)
What are the legendary/mythology source and meanings is to me a far more interesting question.

And even that avoids the focus of the OP, which is more about the in-world reasons for dragons to hoard treasure, not the source of the concept.


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Gold help promotes thick scale growth. it acts as a catalyst for the secretions a dragon makes to grow new scales.


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From a more social standpoint, I think Kileanna hit it right on the head: power. From a flavour standpoint, I think it's just a quirk someone made up about them and got popular. Similar to how only virgins can ride unicorns and how leprechauns have gold. In-universe, there's just a great need for Dragons to collect treasure, similar to how cats always sit in boxes. They just do it without any (seemingly) rational thought behind it.


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Proposing a forum game...

I asked of Aur, the dragon Gold, the purpose of his hoard
And Aur replied, "Who beast me'd think, see scrolls and shine
And know me noble lord."

I asked of Bael, the dragon Black, who asked what Aur had said
And Bael rejoined, "Bah, fool this Aur. Gold decorates my bed."

I asked of Claust, the dragon Red, who laughed faint curls of fire
And hissed, "A home's a home. You sweep and paint. Skulls and gems, I desire."

The Druid said dragons consume the metals and the stones, for magic and rare alchemy to turn to scale and bones.

The Heirophant recalled before Gods' thunderbolts were hurled, before hoard-lust would weight them, when dragons roamed the world.


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We know at least one dragon literally is building a nation. Dragons are known to use their money and not just hold it.

I think Daw's got the answer.

Sure, it makes them a target to an extent... but it also gives them means to act and exert power. And being a powerful race, they're always going to be something of a target, so better have money to buy minions, or equip a loyal champion, or so on.


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thejeff wrote:
Java Man wrote:

I heard it said once that old dragon myths embodied each of the Seven Deadly Sins, explains the boards and maiden "eating."

Dragons have long been tied to at least Greed - back to the earliest legends.

I get that we're trying to come up with practical reasons for many things that existed for symbolic ones in myth and legend, but I'm not sure that's always a profitable task.

pride (well of course, i am a dragon after all, not some pesky lessé race)

wrath (I AM A FRAKIN' DRAGON! HOW DARE YOU DISRESPECT ME!)

sloth (i will get around to it in another fee hundred years)

envy (well, now isn't that a nice crown you have there. i will be sure to pick it from my teeth afterwards)

greed (no dialogue. just happy lizard noises while rolling around in the pike)

gluttony (i shall be magnanimous and only est half of hour kingdom's livestock.)

lust(.....no. it is justthat i like the feel of how humans squishy undr my feet honest. just bloodlust.)

this mostly just goes to show how dragons have been made very thorough and varied villains in the evolution of heir depictions. they have gotten main stream enough that they can indulge in just about any excess without anyone batting an eye. they can be made to fit the sotry, and thus their motivations are easily adapted without losing th general feel 'this is a dragon'.


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Dragons are hoarders, you know, like this. Then they found humans and all their gold.

Now Adventurers have to go in there. The Thief has to act like a Psychologist (or is that the Bard's job?) and HELP the Dragon out of all of its posessions until it feels happy again.

...or you can just kill it.


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You find dinosaur bones underground

You find gold underground

Dinosaur bones are the origins of dragons.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Very much house rule terriority but what if dragons gain strength and power from the size of their horde?

They really are operating on something like the old D&D 1gp=1xp kind of scale

Perhaps dragons don't need to wear magic items to benefit from them - it just needs to be in their hoard instead.

Dark Archive

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"You wish to know why the Horde is so important? An astute question. Most of the Lesser Races dismissively assume it is tied to our egotism, dietary requirements, or sleeping arrangements, but these are merely fringe benefits. It is something much more profound. Let me tell you what the Archivists would, if they had borne witness to the Council of Wyrms in the Second Era, or read the Draconomicon of the Third Era, not the bastardizations from the Fourth and Fifth.

"Firstly, the Horde is an expression of creativity, not just a pile of coins. The finest collections are of a robust mix of coin, gem, objects de art, magical treasures, valuable knowledge, and the occasional valuable Vassal! I believe your word for them is Princess? But I digress... Despite this focus on technique and substance, the Bonded Hoard of a Darastrix is no mere collection of trinkets or a museum of riches; It is the most fundamental and important part of our very Souls! For a dragon to grow of mind, body, and soul, three things must be had in proper measure: Years, Experiences, and Wealth. Only then comes the Dragon Sleep, a time of metamorphosis, in which we shift from one Age to the next. From Hatchling to Advanced, our lives are divided by this magical hibernation. Without it, we would be as Wyrmlings forever!

"It follows, then, that the Horde Bond is the most sacred Bond to even the most generous of the good Clans. To grow, to gain power, to conquer the Twilight and escape Death itself, to become Ascendant, to join our honored ancestors and the stars who went before us... all these things are made possible through the Horde. It permeates our culture at every level, as basic an instinct as the Lairing, yet as nuanced at the Great Game which is itself played via Vassals to acquire more Hordes! Even our eggs contain the wealth of our metal or gem, infusing us, making us into the Clans of our mothers so that in turn, we may molt into the very same precious substance during each Dragon Sleep.

"So you see, the Horde is everything to the children of Io, from the scions of Bahamut to the spawn of Tiamat and every last gem of Sardior in between. From the least of the Lesser Dragons to the greatest of the Epics, the Horde is prestige, the Horde is Pride, the Horde is Immortality. Now consider, Munthrek... that when your kind come for us with your greed and your might, when you rob us of what you only see as treasure, you do not merely impoverish us... You do not merely slay our bodies and silence our minds...

"You damn our very souls..." — ur'Xarzithagos d'Obhelixir, the Prism


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Drawing from 3.5, I believe the Draconomican stated that the dragon's hoard is consumed by the dragon at the end of it's insanely long lifespan, and that the value of the hoard determines its place in the hierarchical afterlife.

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