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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    \$\begingroup\$ Was definitely going to answer with Smaug scenario when I read the question headline. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 1, 2013 at 13:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ 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 \$\endgroup\$
    – tex
    Apr 2, 2013 at 16:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ 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 any way the writer wants it to happen. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 20, 2013 at 14:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Voting to close as too broad / unclear, as it doesn't specify which setting's kind of dragon (as Sardathrion points out). This sounds more like a Worldbuilding question, but an overly broad one given it specifies no particular dragon interpretation. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 10, 2016 at 11:29

6 Answers 6


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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    \$\begingroup\$ And/or other spells (mage hand, unseen servant, etc etc). \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Mar 30, 2013 at 21:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk Exactly. The transform was meant as an addition after that, but I see that was not obvious by the actual paragraph structure. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 31, 2013 at 1:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well said. In D&D type settings, goblins in particular are frequent minions of dragons. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 20, 2013 at 16:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ 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 \$\endgroup\$
    – kravaros
    Nov 20, 2013 at 17:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Load a ship up with bags of treasure, fly the entire ship to the lair. Done deal. \$\endgroup\$
    – user47897
    Jan 18, 2019 at 21:10


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.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +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… \$\endgroup\$ Mar 30, 2013 at 19:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, dragon cults? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 1, 2013 at 13:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoshuaAslanSmith That's a great idea, too. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jadasc
    Apr 1, 2013 at 13:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ D&D 3.5 Dragon Shamans? Or perhaps Shape-shifting. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ashibayai
    Apr 2, 2013 at 16:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm sorry but...WHAT?! TRIBUTE?! YOU STEAL MEN'S SOULS! AND MAKE THEM YOUR SLAVES! \$\endgroup\$
    – Zibbobz
    Nov 20, 2013 at 14:31

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.


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.


Time. Time and patience.

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


Jacob totally nailed it. In addition, as DM with total creative control, you could literally have them consume most items/coins and regurgitate them in their lairs. Some ancient chromatics, before death, will consume their entire hoards and go out in a blaze of glory. They wouldn't leave all that loot for their ancient enemies to simply snatch when they're dead.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you add more to this answer to distinguish it from existing ones that say most of this already? \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Apr 10, 2016 at 6:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome Tavis! The custom here is to provide stand-alone answers to questions, so an "in addition to what [name] said" answer might not be the way to go. There are other ways to enhance someone else's answer : suggest an addition to an answer in the comments or edit it if you think you can make it better. Also, please make sure you take the tour to familiarize yourself with the site : rpg.stackexchange.com/tour \$\endgroup\$
    – Meta4ic
    Apr 10, 2016 at 12:19

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