On Reader Mail, The 1% Orc

Brian asks:

"What do intelligent (as in sapient) monsters do with their treasure? Where could they go to spend it, and if they don't plan on spending it then of what value is it for them to hoard it?

Is there a better way to build treasure hoards for these kinds of monsters that would seem more plausible than piles of gold and jewels or am I missing the point?"

Thanks for writing in Brian. Anyone who has a question, feel free to write me at valis at oook dot cz. I love getting mail and answering questions!

I've been entertained since I received this question!

If your monsters are wise, then they probably invest their money. I'm pretty sure the question is asking what sentient monsters do with their treasure though. 

If your monsters are intelligent in the same way humans, dwarves, and elves are, then they likely do the same thing with money that those races do -- they use it to hire labor, buy arms and food, and meet their needs. If they are a race with a culture that is intelligent, then they recognize that the money has power. If you're not particularly bright and you can't figure out a way to use the money (e.g. ogre), you would still horde it because your intelligence allows you to recognize that the money has power, even if you don't use it for anything. 

As an aside, I have spent years working with extremely low functioning people, with IQ's below 80 and GAF scores that required constant aid and supervision. Every single one has had a plan for getting wildly rich. "I'm going to move downstates and play basketball.", "I'm going to become a fameous rapper", or even "I'm going to wrestle in the WWE!". Every single one of them desired money as a primary motivator in their life. 

I really think what the question is asking about is what about intelligent creatures that are monstrous. Why would an umber hulk or an intelligent spider have money? I think that is an excellent space to inject the fantastic. Perhaps the umber hulk excretes the gold. Perhaps the spider breaks it down and uses it in the web. There are tons of fantastic and magical reasons why bizarre creatures might need or want traditional treasure hordes. 

Hack & Slash
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  1. The concept of Umber Hulks that excrete gold immediately conjures images in my mind of the most dangerous farm ever conceived. In fact, you could probably focus a whole slew of adventures around the concept of an Umber Hulk farm and the rancher's rivals.

  2. Thanks for your answer. And I'm glad that my malapropism led to entertainment. :)

  3. I see the umberhk as tossing non-edible remains (armor, clothes, gold)into a corner where it may be found. Umber dont care, but the gold is there.

  4. Well they can always use their treasures to bait adventurers. They must know that it attract tasty people. You just need to keep it in a good ambush spot.

    As for buying stuff and hiring work, I guess that monsters who have a big hoard are collecting and sparing their treasure for a big project or a big spend. Could be a interesting implication... (what are they planning to do with all this gold?)

  5. Like Cedric said: bait.
    We also have dragon tribute, sacrifice to their dark gods, and as mentioned earlier: trade. Underground cities need trade just like surface cities do, maybe more so. The monsters also surly trade with less reputable types who are always willing to make a profit.
    Coins don't have to stay coins either they can be meltedd down and reshaped as statues and idols.

  6. I've always been a fan of the smarter monsters working on their own "get rich quick" schemes just like adventurers. Sometimes an odd monster can be overheard talking about needing just a few more gold pieces or drops a plan for retirement. It adds a little interest in the project and I have had players work to finish a scheme (stealing a platinum mine from a dragon) themselves to earn profits for themselves.

    For the less intelligent, but certainly cunning monsters I tend to treat them either as hoarding magpies or a bear that stands right where the salmon jump upstream for an easy meal.

  7. In my game humanoids are all raging alcoholics, so maybe they are saving up to buy liquor?


  8. I don't care why they have it...as long as I can kill 'em and take it!

  9. I think society and culture play the biggest part.

    Just a few hundred years ago, right here in the "real world," Salt traded evenly -- pound for pound -- for Gold.

    That is one expensive condiment. For desert people, it's Water.

    So who says that the "treasure" your Adventurer finds in the Orc camp is considered treasure by the Orcs?

    1. Salt has never been as valuable as gold. That is so ridiculous I'll point it out 4 years later.

  10. The giant spider has learned sticking these shiny yellow small objects on its web somehow gets it more humanoid food.


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