So, it happened. The party has slain the dragon. Its hoard is theirs for the taking. Now what?
If you’ve ever run the numbers on a gold pile that’s large enough for a dragon bed, you’ll quickly realize that it’s a game-breaking amount of currency. Indeed, it trivializes many of the challenges that a party has faced in getting there.
While this takes us out of D&D’s standard kill-and-loot gameplay loop, it presents opportunities for different and sometimes weirder gameplay. If you’re happy to indulge the players after they slay the big bad dragon, here’s some ideas to keep their flushed characters challenged.
More Money, More Problems
Once the players have laid claim to a horde, their problems have only begun.
Mining. Perhaps the gold isn’t in coin form. It could be a molten pool of golden magma (great setting for a red dragon encounter), or still attached to the cave structure where the dragon resided. In which case, the party needs to figure out a way to harvest the material.
Minting. Unrefined metal or defunct currency may need to be reminted to be traded in certain kingdoms. Otherwise, the characters might find themselves outside the law for using unsanctioned currency. Though, perhaps some black market dealers aren’t so discerning.
Security. Once word gets out that the dragon is slain, scavengers will descend upon the horde, from outland marauders to those who would otherwise portray themselves as “civilized.” This will become apparent from environmental changes, even if the characters keep quiet about their conquest. In most cases, moving the loot to a new location is preferred.
Storage. If the characters are able to secure the loot, where do they want to keep it? Will it be safe there? Who do they trust to watch it while they’re off adventuring?
Transportation. How are the players getting the gold to where they intend to keep it? Metal is heavy, and a significant horde is also massive and difficult to move. Will the players do it alone? Who can help? Will they be ambushed along the road?
Market Fixing. The local authorities may have something to say about the economic destabilization that a massive influx of currency can bring. In the Sword Coast, the Council of Sparkling Stones would be the local organization with inflation concerns. Perhaps the players can use their new leverage to negotiate a place at the table with the insular humans and dwarves.
Money Can’t Buy Happiness
Challenging the players at higher tiers is easy. You just need to give them problems that aren’t solved by money. World-ending calamities, journeys to different planes of existence, and leveraging personal connections are all good options. Ultimately, what works for your campaign at higher tiers is going to be specific to your history and circumstances.