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It's my first time as the DM of a D&D campaign and I'm planning an encounter against a dragon in his lair. Since dragons hoard large amount of treasure, I would like to know how you deal with all this treasure once the PC's have slain the dragon.

The way I see it, it would make them way too wealthy to let them leave with everything but I can't think of a logical way to prevent them from taking everything.

I'm considering using a level 15 adult red dragon along with some minions. The party is level 16.

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2 Answers 2

Don't worry about it. Render the treasure as per treasure parcels, and give the rest as a plot token which represents the rest of the treasure in the narrative of your game.

Dump most of the treasure parcels for the level at the end of the encounter. That means the dragon will be sleeping on about ninety thousand gold, not counting magic items. Beyond that, money in late paragon is almost entirely pointless with magic item rarity rules. Healing potions already cost as much as a small town.

What I'd recommend is, on top of focusing most of the level's treasure parcels on the hoard, say: "there's a lot more money here, I'll be giving you this level's money all in a lump, but because there's more than that, each of you get a 'plot token.' These plot tokens represent you spending massive amounts of money to affect some change onto the world. How do you want to spend them?"

By treating the hoard by treasure rules, you continue to maintain the character-required levels of wealth and other nonsense. By giving most of the hoard as "plot tokens" you explicitly acknowledge that "Hey, the characters have done something special here" and reward them by giving them a stake in the world.

By late paragon, most characters likely have pocket kingdoms (or equivalent) and are heading into the multiverse-spanning epic levels. Don't worry too much about "cash."

Example uses of plot tokens in the game that I played:

  • I'd like a castle now.
  • We, the group, want to found a city.
  • I'm going to establish a thieves guild.
  • We'll buy another airship.

The beauty of most of these requests is that they inevitably lead to more adventures. Not only that, but the plot resources implicit in these things lead to fantastic backdrops of "As your city's army battles it out with the tainted creatures of the world around the iceberg, you head inside." This investment-in-world also gave the paragon-epic characters reasons to fight without needing to deal with the standard epic quest-giver problem.

If you absolutely must give treasure qua treasure beyond the 90k in gold, gems, and art, consider a "ritualized residuum" substance. With normal residuum, casters can only create common magic items. With this stuff, say because a dragon had been using it for a bed for umpteen years, it can be used to enchant uncommon items of the players choice. You can then make the magical crystals which contain the "ritualized residuum" rather bulky, which gives an endless floor of twilit sparkly magic rocks.

Given that (the never considered size) of gold pieces in earlier editions was 1.5 to 3 times the size of one of our 50 cent pieces ninety to a hundred and fifty thousand of them is... not too bad for a floor covering. Feel free to emphasise how many there are by not counting them but providing the means for a quick fermi calculation as to their quantity.

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For starters, value comes in differing sizes, and by the level indicated, you can afford to make a fair share of the adventure parcel come in the form of silver and gold coins. The total monetary awards of a spread of all 10 parcels in the 16th level packet is 90k gp, which can be put into a single hoard, and this does not even include any magic items.

I would recommend something like 50 000 gold pieces and 250 000 silver pieces, leaving 15 000 gp worth of gems and art to put into the pile. That's a lot of wealth, assuming the hoard is on average half-foot high and inefficiently stacked it should be plenty for a dragon of that size category to sleep on. The Draconomicon explicitly mentions that red dragons tend not to care much for the kind of wealth but only the fact that it is wealth. If it's valuable, they want it.

Silver pieces might not be as valuable as gold pieces, but they're still valuable, and they can help boost the physical size of a horde due to the lower value by volume content, just as gold pieces at this level are far less valuable by volume than magic items.

If you still think that's not enough, you could consider converting some magical items in packets 1-4 into equivalent coinage and give them easy ways to convert that money into usable magic items.

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