So my son asks, after I’ve been the GM for the second session of Hoard of the Dragon Queen, ‘Where’s the treasure?'”

“We really need to find some treasure,” he continues. “I wanna buy that thing that will let me shoot an arrow with a line so we can climb up walls.”

“You mean, some kind of grappling line?”

“Yeah. But my rope is too heavy for an arrow.”

Yes, it is.

“I might need a crossbow, too.”

That would be handy, I agree.

“That takes money. We need to find some treasure.”

It is so gratifying to hear my preteen son grasp the most basic tenets of Dungeons and Dragons: Kill monsters, take their stuff, buy goodies for the PC.

The adventure has treasure. There’s a sidebar about kobolds and cultists running around with the spoils they’ve collected from ransacking the village. These rampaging cultists have d6 x 10 gp worth of trinkets stuffed in their pockets.

But the group’s cleric declared this treasure off limits. Blood money taken from the people of the village they are trying to protect, he says. And from this perspective, he’s right. (Of course, scruples about monster treasure is always contextual. Where’d that loot in the dungeon come from? It’s not like those goblins and bugbears got their gold pieces from working a shift at Culver’s Butterburgers.)

So when the dust settles, where will the treasure come from?

> Gifts from the villagers? Unlikely. They’ll need every dime to rebuild once the cultists are routed.

> Reward from the castle’s governor? It would be a typical GM move. But largess from the folks in charge seems even less likely, in my opinion. Maybe I’m reading the adventure wrong, but it seems to be that the governor would be the sort to pat the adventures on the head with an attaboy and send them on their way.

> Love offering from the temple? This has possibilities. The PCs rescued the priest and his flock. It would be in their nature to express their gratitude. But it would be a modest gift (but enough to get my son his grappling contraction).

> Get to one of the bad guys’ bosses? I like this one. Those folks have whole batches of treasure unconnected to the town, and it would be fun to upturn their purses. And beating a big bad should entail some treasure. The governor would probably like to tax or claim the lot of it, I suppose, but he’s hardly in a position to assert his authority or quibble about it.

Finding a means to reward the adventurers within the context of the module’s story is always more gratifying than some easy bequeathing of treasure from on high. Think about where the treasure will come from.

I’ve got a PC who has a grappling hook to purchase.