Dragons always have big piles of loot…

The idea of dragons having big piles of loot seems pretty much a given in the fantasy genre… but the only ‘dragons with loot‘ stories that I can think of are Fafnir from the tale of Sigurd from Norse mythology and Smaug from “The Hobbit.” I’m unclear if Fafnir from the Norse saga qualifies since in some versions I think he is actually a dwarf who has somehow transformed himself into a dragon in order to guard the gold.

As I recall, Saint George killed a dragon that was living near a pool of water that was a water source for a city and thereby extorting maidens as food from the locals, but in the case of the St. George & Dragon story, I’m not clear on if the dragon was ‘guarding’ the water or just happened to be living near it and the locals were tossing it maidens because the dragon demanded them or just to distract it long enough to fill a couple of buckets. I guess if it was a town in the desert, water could be seen as a treasure, but I’m not quite ready to give players XP every time they fill up their water skins. It’s been years since I read the St. George story, but I don’t recall getting the impression that the dragon in it was particularly ‘human’ in it’s thinking (unlike Smaug).

Are there other ‘dragons guarding treasure’ that I am just not thinking of? I know dragons are quite popular in Asian folklore, but I don’t know much about the folklore of the far east and how dragons behave in the old stories from Japan, China, etc.


5 Comments on “Dragons always have big piles of loot…”

  1. Taketoshi says:

    There aren't a whole lot of stories depicting the dragon in such a concrete way that we have in the west.

    That's primarily because in Chinese tradition (on which most other asian dragon traditions are based) the dragon is a representation of primal forces, usually water and the weather, and is a benevolent spirit which watches over civilization and culture and ensures its longevity and prosperity.

  2. Beedo says:

    The water is part of an older dragon theme – early myth dragons and serpents like Tiamat and Python guard water; the serpent in the garden and Ladon of the Hesperides guard sacred trees. It's more of a theme of greed, the guarded wealth transforms into money with changes in culture and civilization. Oh – two other money guarding literary dragons I can think of off-hand include the one in Beowulf (the inspiration for Smaug), and the one in Spencer's Faerie Queen.

  3. Fitz says:

    The dragon that killed Beowulf was guarding a treasure hoard. I don't recall whether the dragon was ever named or not in the poem.

  4. Taketoshi says:

    If Beowulf isn't the earliest straightforward inspiration for D&D, I dunno what is.

  5. Limpey says:

    Yeah; I had completely forgotten about the Beowulf dragon. Given that Tolkien was apparently the guy for Beowulf, it would make sense that he would use that.


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