How to make a dragon hoard?

Disclaimer: This question is tagged dnd-5e, since consideration of the value of money or the magic item system might be relevant. I do, however, doubt that an answer based primarily on these would provide a satisfying solution to the problem at hand.

Clarification in magic items: I do not consider it necessary to use problematic amounts of magic items. While there might be a few, my concerns are about monetary value of money and nonmagic objects.

1. Situation and context

In the adventure I am currently running, the party sets out to kill a dragon. For a proper dragon hunt an impressive hoard is in order. It does not have to be a hoard like in The Hobbit, but it needs to be significant.

Now, the problem is that this amount of money owned by the players will have consequences, even if money in 5e is arguably not inherently valuable, as discussed before. I do have a character that can use heavy armor and is keen on a plate armor. I do not mind them getting one, but that is 1,500 gp, so even with this and a good stockpile of potions we are looking at a couple thousand gp that can be easily used. The simple fact of the players having money is not the main problem, however, I think that I and the players can come up with interesting uses and that it will not run over my encounter balance since there is no buying magic items. I am way more concerned about creep: If I have myself a nice dragon hoard, the next quest reward will be quite stale unless it is also really impressive which would create a vicious cycle.

It was already discussed here how to resolve the problem after the fact (see 17 million gp and The magic arsenal) but I want to avoid it proactively.

2. Solutions considered

There are a few putative solutions that immediately come to mind:

  • Use a small amount of money: However, if I make sure that the amount of money will not cause problems, it does not make for a nice dragon hoard any more.
  • Use worthless or disappearing money: This is quite easily done (The Hobbit already provides dragon sickness), but it will rob the players of a reward which I would like to avoid. My players are usually quite understanding when I express concerns of balance and similar, so I suppose I could get away with it, but this does rub me the wrong way. Making it so that the characters cannot carry away the money would fall in this realm.
  • Complications that eat away money: I can introduce any number of complications that eat away money after, such as taxes, old currency (exchange comes at a loss), goblins who will raid the place as soon as the dragon is dead… However these would have to walk a very fine line between two potential issues. On the one side they might not resolve anything because they are not efficient enough. One the other hand , they might be too efficient and rob the players. All in all, not very satisfactory even if the players are given opportunity to take countermeasures. If I make 100% sure they work, I still robbed the players. Anything less and it will probably end like the in the questions cited above.

3. The Question

How can I make an impressive dragon hoard given that a) a small amount of money will make it seem like it’s not a real hoard, b) large amounts of money will probably overshadow future rewards, and c) any measures I came up with until now, that take away money later will either fail or rob the players of their reward?

Appendix: Further considerations

What I am looking for: Since any solution based on setting the amount of money and / or changing it later will probably create at least one of the three problems named, I suppose that a valid solution will probably discuss how to shift focus concerning the reward away from the money. However, if the solution came easy to me, I would not be asking. I do suspect that official 5e material does not offer a solution, and that a solution would be applicable to other systems, so solutions from earlier editions, other games, or homebrew are welcome so long as they take into account the basic assumptions of my question.

What I am not looking for: Any of the following does not – on its own – make for a complete answer:

  • “There is no problem because money in 5e is not worth anything, really.”
  • “Just give them lots of money. It will probably not create problems and if it does you already found suggestions for fixing it.”
  • “I have x random idea on how to make all the money be fake or unusable.”
  • “I have y random idea on reducing the final amount of money.” So have I, vide infra.
  • “Just do another adventure or use a dragon without a hoard1.”

Of course, if you have a valid answer, I’m happy to read the frame challenge or x random idea you included with it.

Assorted information: This is the first adventure in an assorted-adventures style campaign that I run simultaneously for two groups of four and five players, respectively. The characters are currently level 5. The campaign is located in my homebrew 5e setting. I do not allow purchasing magic items.

1: Imagine killing a broke dragon with, let’s say, 16 gp. This would be a lot like the situation from Stephen King’s It (p. 306) where a mother has her missing son declared dead to access his savings of 16 $ .

How can I find old Dungeon and Dragon magazine articles without a subscription?

I have an interest in the pre-WOTC editions of Dungeons & Dragons, and would like to learn more about the history and foundation of the game; I would therefore like to get a hold of various back editions of Dungeon and Dragon magazine.

I’m aware that a D&D Insider subscription comes with access to the magazines. However, I’m not enthused about paying for a continuous subscription to maintain access. I’d rather pay once, and I’m not interested in the more recent WOTC products.

Is there any legal and reliable way I can get access to the old editions of Dungeon and Dragon magazines without having to pay over time to maintain that access?

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I am about to start Dragon of Icespire peak, and I’m a bit uncertain on how I should prepare for it: I read Slyflourish’s tips for DoIP, and I’m aware of some of its pitfalls, including low leveled characters, etc.

What I’m wondering is, how in a practical sense do you prepare for the optional quests on the job board? Let’s assume they have 3 quests to choose from on the job board, but which will be their choice? Who knows! This means that I have prepare for all 3, but there are so many details to remember that I will probably have to write them down and read a lot while they are adventuring, and this doesn’t sound good…

How did you go about preparing this first session where they have so many options to choose from? I imagine that any tips in here will be useful not only for the 1st set of quests but also the whole story *panics as fresh DM *

Porting dragon subdual rules from AD&D 1e to D&D 5e?

I do not know the rules of AD&D 1st edition that were in effect around 1987. I own, however, a copy of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (TSR1031). I’ve just noticed (after all these decades :D) that its DM’s Sourcebook of the Realms has alternative rules for subduing a dragon (on p.15): it can’t simply be subdued, it must be awake and challenged properly, and it must accept the challenge before subdual as per the general rules can happen. So… there must have been general rules for subduing a dragon.

What were the general AD&D 1st edition rules for subduing a dragon, and how would those rules best be ported to D&D 5e, if they’re worth porting at all?

How long could a dragon survive if it were trapped in its lair?

Pretty much just what the title says. Would it just starve and die over time, or would it be able to survive in some way?

Some clarifications:
I’m assuming a red dragon, and the lair being something in line with the description in the MM: "Red dragons lair in high mountains or hills … Caves with volcanic or geothermal activity…"

So something in line with this, a cave in some high mountains.

For this case, I am assuming the standard rules (not the spellcasting variant).

Could True Polymorph turn a creature like a shark into a object like a dead dragon turtle’s head?

I have a bard that has been true polymorphing into a dragon turtle and attacking coastal towns on a large island (think “Big Island” Hawaii) I am doing this so another member of my party can be true polymorphed into a bronze dragon adult and be seen “fighting” with me.

Our plan is for the fight to go into the ocean, then sometime later he as the bronze dragon will drag a part of a dragon turtle’ body out with him and declare himself their savior and new leader and/or guardian. then true polymorph on him will be dropped, he’ll say he used his dragon shapechange ability to look human. Then he will say he has to keep traveling to “right many wrongs” but that one day he will return.

Then at the end of the campaign if we are still alive, I will permanently make him an adult bronze (around 200 years old) and he will get to spend upwards of 5000 years retired and living as the king of an island nation. Also so he is a sailor background fighter so he plans to slowly reshape them into a sea fairing warrior people like the ancient Maori. He also plans to take a bride from the tribe once every generation till the whole island is full of dragon ancestry sorcerers and half-dragon humans.

We may not need the corpse head of a dragon turtle to pull this deception off we could say it died below the waves but it would help give us trick them and then for centuries the skull of a dragon turtle can adore their main village as a constant reminder of why they should follow him.

How big is a dragon?

I know from the Monster Manual “Dragon Age Categories” table on page 86 that a young dragon is “large”. Which means that if you play on a battle map, he takes up 2×2 squares, which 10 x 10 feet.

What I don’t know is how “large” is measured. Is the dragon just 10 feet wingspan, or 10 feet from head to tail? Or is 10 feet about the length from shoulders to rump, with wings, head, and tail not being counted? I am trying to 3D print a dragon miniature, and for that and a better description I really would like more about how big a “large” young dragon actually is. Anyone got a source for that?