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It occurred to me that a dragon has no way of actually carrying treasure from wherever he got it from to his actual lair in order to hoard it. Does a dragon eat the treasure then regurgitate it later or hire people to haul it around?

Example: A dragon who lives in the mountains hears of a very rich city full of treasure, so he flies over and defeats the people of the city and now possesses the riches of the city...

...Now my question is, how does the dragon take the treasure from the city to his lair in the mountains?

Smaug had it made; he conquered a lair and a treasure hoard all at once.

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Was definitely going to answer with Smaug scenario when I read the question headline. –  Joshua Aslan Smith Apr 1 '13 at 13:32
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As entertaining as the answers are, I think I disagree with the premise of the question. Dragons are intelligent and, often as not, are portrayed with large but useful hand-like appendages. For example: nerdtrek.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/dragon.jpg –  tex Apr 2 '13 at 16:38
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This is a meaningless question unless you have a setting in mind. If you have no setting in mind, then the only right answer is anyway the writer wants it to happen. –  Sardathrion Nov 20 '13 at 14:59
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5 Answers 5

up vote 21 down vote accepted

Two ways. First, they're intelligent and can speak, so hiring or intimidating people to drag their treasure around for them would be relatively trivial. This can be tribute (as mentioned by Jadasc) but can take any form that minions would be capable of motivating (extorting, hiring, cajoling, bribing, what have you).

Second, dragons are typically arcane casters. Most of them gain the ability to transform themselves into alternate forms. This is specific in rules like Pathfinder and D20. A Mature dragon can almost always assume humanoid shape and do his/her own lugging if needed. Obtaining an appropriately-sized cargo net shouldn't be too difficult and from there, it's just a matter of logistics (see intelligence above).

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And/or other spells (mage hand, unseen servant, etc etc). –  mxyzplk Mar 30 '13 at 21:21
    
@mxyzplk Exactly. The transform was meant as an addition after that, but I see that was not obvious by the actual paragraph structure. –  Jacob Proffitt Mar 31 '13 at 1:21
    
Well said. In D&D type settings, goblins in particular are frequent minions of dragons. –  TimothyAWiseman Nov 20 '13 at 16:41
    
To the spells, I'd add Hoard Gullet. D&D 3.5 spell specifically designed for converting your stomach into an extradimensional storage space :D –  kravaros Nov 20 '13 at 17:57
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Time. Time and patience.

Dragons have a very, very, VERY long lifespan, and the size of their horde is proportional to their age/size. Couple that with their predisposition to hording any valuables they can find, and you have a horde that grows in size proportionate to the dragon's ability to carry home larger and larger finds in their paw.

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I read in the Draconomicon that it is a common practice, at least in D&D 3.5e, for dragons to swallow their plundered loot and then regurgitate it at their lair. This would be akin to birds swalling a worm only to bring it back to their nest to feed their babies. However, it is just as common, if not moreso for the dragons to "convince" the remaining people that it is in their interest to carry large sums of their treasure over to the dragon's lair.

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I see no reason that a dragon would have any trouble at all bringing treasure back to its lair. Most of them cast spells, and many can polymorph. They are also highly intelligent and could easily finds ways to circumvent any restrictions that their anatomy put on them. Personally I think their options are only restricted by their individual creativity.

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Tribute.

The dragon sends emissaries to the town, or does a fly-by scorching, and then informs the wealthiest of its residents that unless they relish the idea of being charred or eaten, they'll deliver some choice valuables to the cave near the mountain once a month.

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+1. I remember an old D&D choose-your-own-adventure book that starts out with a town in the grip of a dragon, and you're chosen to deliver the tribute – or not. Oh yes, here it is: The Dragon's Ransom. I never did finish it; I kept getting eaten by the hobgoblin's carnivorous apes… –  SevenSidedDie Mar 30 '13 at 19:05
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Also, dragon cults? –  Joshua Aslan Smith Apr 1 '13 at 13:32
    
@JoshuaAslanSmith That's a great idea, too. –  Jadasc Apr 1 '13 at 13:57
    
D&D 3.5 Dragon Shamans? Or perhaps Shape-shifting. –  Ashibayai Apr 2 '13 at 16:29
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I'm sorry but...WHAT?! TRIBUTE?! YOU STEAL MEN'S SOULS! AND MAKE THEM YOUR SLAVES! –  Zibbobz Nov 20 '13 at 14:31
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