We know from decades of experience that Dragons generally tend to have sizable hordes various treasure. We can deduce from the Bestiary (pg. 108–109) that Gold Dragons specifically like gems since they have spell-like abilities based on them. I know also that in my specific scenario the Skeleton Adult Gold Dragon was killed and raised by Villain the Wizard, whom in order to do such a thing must be competent and powerful.
From these assumptions we may conclude that any treasures that were particularly useful to a powerful spellcaster, or which were sufficiently small and valuable to be worth a powerful spellcaster's effort to remove, have been removed from the treasure.
What interesting trinkets might that leave behind to serve as treasure for the current CR 9 encounter with the Bloody Skeleton Adult Gold Dragon? For reference, the living Adult Gold Dragon would have been a CR 15 encounter, caster level 7th.
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So, what are we saying is 'useful' to the caster?
Just the magic items, or is the caster grabbing almost everything that isn't nailed down? (as in- the players better have brought a crowbar to getthe stuff that IS nailed down).
If it is the latter, then one immediate area I could imagine would be personal adornments of the dragon- basically, would this dragon BLING itself? If its TEETH are jewel encrusted and gilded... then that would be something the caster would not bother with (since it might damage the main attack of the undead dragon). The claws and horns might be BEDAZZLED too.
I also played with some ideas on 'why' dragons like gold/jewels before. I imagined that they were used for the dragon's gizzard. This is an organ in birds and reptiles; basically, these animals don't chew very well (besides some simple ripping, the teeth are more there for holding down prey for swallowing), so they need another organ to act as a second set of teeth; birds would swallow small stones to hold in their gizzards, and the stones grind up their food.
So the contents might still be in the area, under the idea that the caster grabbed the loot first, made the skeleton, and left without looking through the fleshy bits that fell off. So if the dragon was using diamonds and gold as luxurious medical supplements...
I can't imagine most wizards leaving any real treasure behind unless it clearly had little value to them (piles of copper coins) or was too heavy for what they were doing at the time and wanted to carry.
Since the skeleton isn't an intelligent minion, the wizard doesn't need to leave it with anything to 'buy its loyalty'.
So, it would have to be treasure the wizard wouldn't find easily (meaning it's probably non-magical, since detect magic is basically free, though it could still be valuable) or hidden behind or within a lead lining or container.
Any treasure purposefully left behind would be as a trap or a lure, possibly to bring the PCs closer to a lava pool where the skeleton lurks or within its reach. This is also a good place to leave a cursed item behind, one that secretly gives vulnerability to fire, broadcasts the wearer's thoughts to nearby enemies or the wizard, or just makes their current location detectable to him.
Well, there can be other reasons for him to leave treasure. I tended to focus on things taht would be troublesome to remove (bedazzling on dragon's teeth/claws, which are hard to get out without defanging the dragon, which is the opposite of what he wants from his minion), or things that would just be too disgusting for him to bother with.
In that line of thought- how about the corpses of would be dragon slayers? Sure, gold dragons are LG... but there is an entire paizo book devoted to cutting up and making use of dragon parts... some I am sure there are some idiots that were just greedy.
Anyway, I am going to say that these corpses were not looted because the dragon fried them, and as such their valuables are fused to their charred flesh.
Prying that off is too disgusting for a self respecting NPC wizard (lets ignore what a player wizard does- the force that control them do not have to deal with the fused fingers on the corpse; think of your 'super intelligent mastermind' villain from movies instead), and maybe the wizard doesn't have the fools turn into undead minions because the wizard is hiding how evil he is. Y'know- the court wizard that hides that he is a necromancer, and can't be seen with a trail of undead behind him when he takes them to cheap laborers for looting.
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Well, money doesn't have any value when it just sits there. That was one of the things Smaug reperesented: the Dwarven diaspora caused by Smaug ecomonically suppressed the region, causing a period called the Desolation of Smaug. Immediately following the disorder created by the Death of Smaug, the Battle of the 5 Armies, the area regained a lot of prosperity as all that Dwarven Gold started moing around again.
What would a Gold Dragon do with its money? Gold Dragons are Lawful Good, and they are extremely intelligent. In my campaign, if you killed a Gold Dragon just for a pile of gold and silver coins, you'd be looking for a long, long time. My Gold Dragons would be using their vast wealth to help people. They would capitalize farms, mines and mills. They would fund research into fighting diseases. They would start foresting industries where 5 trees would be planted for every 1 cut down, funding severance and retraining packages for the out-of-work lumberjacks, miners, and/or farmers as different markets go soft in turn, the retraining provided by the numerous free schools and free lending libraries founded by the Dragon. Gold Dragons Polymorph at will, pretty much. You might not even know when you meet one. You might have an idea, when the party goes to a vast library and meets a blue-haired old lady in a cardigan with winged reading glasses hanging around her neck on a silver chain, who seems to know exactly where to find information on everything.
But then when the party is languishing in the dungeon of the illithids, wondering how to escape from getting their brains sucked out. A diffident, stumbling Mind Flayer fumbling with the keys, opens the party's jail cell, and who should walk in but the little old librarian, demanding they return their late library book....
If my party were seeking a dead Gold Dragon's treasure, they probaby wouldn't find a hoard: they'd find a legacy of institutions. And maybe, the dead dragon isn't even really dead.
I kind of like the idea of Dragons DOING things with their hoards. Dragons who just pile up the coins would be rare. And when they do, it would represent something specific. Maybe that is something an Undead or insane Dragon would do. Evil Dragons would run predatory lending practices and invent robo-forclosures like Bank of America. They would run protection rackets. They would tax import and export. Sometimes, the farmer wouldn't have the money to pay, so he'd sacrifice his son or daughter, which the dragon might eat, or might educate, train, and employ as an assassin, lawyer, accountant, or actuary.
Black and Green Dragons like to live in forests and swamps, I imagine their lairs as being hermit-alchemal labs where they perform bizarre experiments on the plants and animals. Maybe that is where Kobolds and Vegepygmies come from...
It occurs to me that if Villain the Wizard were after my Gold Dragon's treasure, it would still happen, but it would be more subtle.
Villain the Wizard would be a teacher at one of the Dragon's schools, corrupting the youth he is supposed to be educating.
Villain the Wizard would be embezzling at the Dragon's Credit Union or foreclosing on properties he could have re-financed.
Villain the Wizard could be behind a religious revival that wants to burn books, and even if a Fire-Breathing Dragon could clear off an angry mob with torches, that might not work to protect her collection of books.
An if the Dragon were dead or moved on to other things, it would all be easier for Villain the Wizard to slowly take over and corrupt these things.
I see a huge amount of potential here. I'm starting to think I should run a campaign like this. People are beset by the Dragon, who is really Villain the Wizard. The party starts off thinking, "Yay! we're going to slay the Dragon!" but when they talk about it with the villagers, everyone talks about all the good the Dragon has been doing for the village for centuries. But then they also start hearing about farmers sacrificing sons and daughters to make payments and losing their farms to forclosure, but then they find out that the Dragon is a Gold Dragon. What a puzzle! Maybe they find an unmasked the Real Dragon and the fireworks happen. Maybe, they get very good advice and blessings from a helpful librarian or panhandlers, who turns up suspiciously and/or auspiciously right after defeating the evil plans of Villain the Wizard. And she says, with a twinkle in her eye, "You are good boys." and kisses their cheeks. Maybe the party casts Detect Magic on the lipstick smudges the old lady leaves behind...