Loot Tables: Dragon Hoards
Updated: Mar 4
Today is the day - Fizban's Treasury Of Dragons, the latest DnD 5e Sourcebook has been released! I've managed to have a really good skim through it and honestly, I'm suitably impressed. The game is renowned for its dragons - they are after all in the full title! But for me, the dragon as an enemy had become a little boring. It was filled with tropes (the evil chromatic vs. good metallic thing just feels stereotyped and outdated), its abilities were so famous that they bordered on predictable, most campaigns don't reach a high enough level to really get to fight one of the scary ones, and there are just so many OTHER interesting creatures and encounters in DnD.
But this newest release has really managed to update and freshen up this enemy, making the idea of a dragon combat encounter, one shot or even whole campaign EXTREMELY exciting. The level of detail in it is extraordinary - new subclasses, lore, feats, roll tables, plot hooks, dragon-themed creatures - it has it all! With that in mind, I thought I'd draw inspiration for this post from one particular section of the book - Chapter 4: Lairs & Hoards. It's rich in detail for loot ideas and the specific conditions surrounding the dragon's relationship with both its lair, and its hoard.
So - what is a dragon hoard? And where does it come from? Well, as with most things, the idea of a large dragon or mythical serpent/lizard-like beast hoarding or guarding some kind of treasure can be found across the world in various different myths and legends. There are plenty of early, famous examples found in Greek mythology - such as the Colchian Dragon that guarded the famous Golden Fleece, the Ismenian Dragon that guarded the sacred spring of Thebes, or Ladon the draconic serpent that guarded Hera's Golden Apples. Chinese mythology talks about a Fucanglong that lives underground and guards both man-made treasure and natural ore deposits. Germanic folklore and Norse mythology refer to treasure-guarding serpents the most - the famous Firedrake in the epic poem Beowulf is a particularly fond of gold, and Fáfnir (found in the Icelandic Völsunga) was a dwarf that turned into a dragon as a result of being cursed and obsessed with Andvari's ring and gold.
As the age of Chivalric romance hit - it became more fashionable for brave warriors to fight for honour, duty, or people's lives than for treasure or riches, and so for a while the dragons that hoarded gold were replaced by those that stole princesses and helpless maidens. The Medieval Christian tale of St. George and the Dragon is famous even today and is probably one of the better examples of this kind of story. Once J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit however in 1937, the love for dragons that hoarded treasure returned, and has now inspired a lot of fantasy literature. It is clear to see where the Firedrake and Fáfnir have hugely inspired both the characters of Smaug and Thorin Oakenshield within The Hobbit too.
Later adapted into a film, The Hobbit is not the only pop culture example of a hoarding dragon (though very famous). The Shrek series features a dragon, one that seems to enjoy guarding treasure AND princesses. Those that follow the treasure hoarding dragon trope carefully may not have been surprised by the reveal that Gringotts from the Harry Potter series was inhabited by guard dragons! Dragon hoards are said to contain powerful magic, often as a result of the dragon, but in C.S Lewis's Chronicles Of Narnia series, Eustace Scrubbs falls asleep on a dragon's hoard and is turned into one himself as a result! And those that have played Skyrim know that there is usually a well-stocked treasure chest found near a dragon's roost!
What I particularly like about the chapter I am drawing inspiration from is the level of detail that is put into making the dragon's hoard more than a pile of treasure, and its lair more than just 'some cave'. The dragon, its treasure, and its chosen place to live or store this treasure are often linked and feed each other with ancient, magical energy. For example - a dragon may draw its strength from its wealth and become weaker or not be able to use its lair actions if its treasure is gone. Certain items within the hoard may be imbued with magic from the dragon's fire breath and become stronger the longer they are sat with the hoard. And the lair itself may take on magical quirks dependant on the dragon's presence.
The book contains plenty of loot tables and ideas for gold/treasure hoarding dragons, right down to the individual colour of the dragon. With that, and some of the fantastical ideas from this book, in mind - I decided to come up with some dragon lairs and hoards that are a little different to the usual and create roll tables for what you might find inside. Dragons are, after all, intelligent beings and are very likely to develop obsessive compulsions to collect and hoard all sorts of unusual objects, experiences, or even...living things.
The Ruined Athenaeum
Deep within the walls of a mythical deserted city lies a library that is said to contain one of the oldest and vastest collections of books to have ever existed in the world. If your players can find the city then they will soon learn that the library is now inhabited by a dragon that hoards stacks upon stacks of books. It seems to have gone to a huge amount of effort to preserve and look after them. The library is vast and categorised neatly with not only historical tomes from the original library but books that the dragon has since acquired.
Players may be able to appease the dragon with a book or a story to add to its collection here in the library. If they do well enough, perhaps it will even let them peruse the collection for knowledge that they may seek. But should any of the books be damaged, stolen, or destroyed they may find that they have a very angry dragon on their hands!
Loot (Roll 1d6):
A tome that details some important information around the game's BBEG or a tricky villain that the party are struggling to fight. Could this be the key to their defeat?
A book loaded with the spell Plane Shift (1/day) that will transport the party to an entirely different plane of existence. They can attempt to influence the book's decision on which Plane by rolling if they like, but even if they succeed it will be a random location within that Plane.
A Tome Of Understanding (Basic Rules, page 209).
A Book Of Exalted Deeds (Dungeon Master's Guide, page 222).
A book in which each page contains only one word, filling the user with a sense of dread. Once per day, someone may read one of these words at a target and learn of its effect - these are Power Words (you could use Kill, Stun, Heal and Pain, and I also found a great list by Middle Finger of Vecna).
The Demonicon Of Iggwilv (Tasha's Cauldron Of Everything, page 125).
The Nursery Of Scales:
Found within an enchanting grove of trees, a humble old lady lives with a group of baby dragons that she refers to as hatchlings. She feeds and takes care of them, and is currently in the process of encouraging their natural hoarding behaviours. Each of the baby dragons here have begun collecting their own piles - pretty leaves and petals, oddly shaped twigs and pinecones, shiny rocks, and different types of berries. The elderly hermit gazes upon them fondly and, for just a moment, her eyes flicker to that of a reptile.
Players can certainly appease the dragons and their caretaker by helping to add to the hoards with interesting things from the forest. Perhaps one of the babies will even imprint upon a player and become a new companion, though be warned - dragons are hard work. Stealing from the dragons, damaging the eggs still waiting to hatch, or prying too much might enrage the wise-woman and her charges though!
Loot (Roll 1d6):
1d10 berries that act like they have been created from the Goodberry spell though these last indefinitely and heal 2d6+4 hit points upon consumption.
A stick that appears to have a dead frog attached to it. This is actually a Wand Of Polymorph (Basic Rules, page 211).
A pretty purple rock. It is clearly the most beautiful of the collection, and is actually an Amethyst Lodestone (Fizban's Treasury Of Dragons, page 22).
A Feather Token (Basic Rules, page 168). Which token it is can be rolled or chosen at the DM's discretion.
One hatchling is hoarding egg shells - most of them are broken but one egg is still intact and significantly larger than the others. Every so often, it shakes slightly.
The petals of an incredibly rare flower that, rumour has it, can be used in place of the usual material components for the spell Revivify.
The Deserted Tower
Wizard towers are known for being much bigger on the inside than the outside. The tower of this famous wizard is no different, and is said to be filled with many beautiful rooms and gardens despite being very unassuming on the outside. Another rumour says that the wizard lived with a dragon, whose blindness and damaged wings meant that it struggled to find a lair of its own that was not taken from it by other, stronger dragons. They became such good friends that now the wizard is gone, he has left the tower for the dragon to inhabit.
Now served by Kobolds, this dragon hoards and collects smells for it to enjoy. The smell of freshly baked bread is constantly being produced in the kitchen, the gardens produce the smells of honeysuckle and cut grass, and the dragon is always looking for new smells to add to its collection as it has the ability to add a room for each. Good, powerful scents will get the dragon on side. Bad smells may insult it. Be wary of what you offer, if anything at all.
Loot (Roll 1d6):
A small bead that has the ability to produce an illusory smell of the owner's choosing within a 15 ft. radius at will.
A Dragon-Touched Focus (Fizban's Treasury Of Dragons, page 26). This is the dragon's most treasured possession as it is something they made with the wizard centuries ago.
A Censer of Controlling Air Elementals (Basic Rules, page 158) found in a room that smells distinctly of the mountain mists.
1d10 Potions Of Fire Breath found in a room that smells faintly of spices and smoke.
A Candle Of Invocation (Basic Rules, page 157) found in what must have been the wizard's study, replicating the smell of old books and a crackling fire.
A Heart Weaver's Primer (Tasha's Cauldron Of Everything, page 128) that distinctly smells of the holder's favourite smell.
These are just a few flavour ideas for some hoards that may be a little more interesting and focused than the usual money, jewels, and magic items. You could really apply this sort of ruling to any unusual dragon's interest - perhaps they are fond of music? Or collect memories and prophecies? Perhaps they enjoy growing plants, cooking and baking, or collecting aged alcohol. Truly, the sky is the limit in the case of dragon hoards! More ideas can be found at the Tiny Dragon Tumblr or this Uncommon Dragon Hoards Imgur. Let me know if you come up with any unique hoard ideas, and your thoughts on the new book!