Anyone with any age will say, “Heroes are not so plentiful as they once were.” This may be true, it may be not. It may be simply that most of today’s Heroes have not yet been featured in Dragons Weekly. It may be simply that, with few exceptions, Heroism is not taught institutionally but rather handed down person to person.
Regardless of the reason, I’m always up for more Heroes, so I’ll do my part in passing on what I know. Start with the basics and the rest will take care of itself, I was always taught, so here goes. The Basisest of Basics: I give you the Hero’s Rules of Hoardom.
First: “A nearby Dragon usually means a nearby Hoard.”
This is pretty simple. Everyone knows Dragons hoard things. But the underlying attitude shift cannot be overlooked.
Smiths hate Dragons. Smiths are scared of Dragons. Smiths wish anyone would make Dragons go away. Smiths wish Dragons well off and well, well away.
Are Heroes that different? Heroes hate Dragons. Heroes fear Dragons, giving credit where credit is due. And Heroes want Dragons gone more than anyone else—for they wish it strongly enough to take action.
The difference is, Smiths ONLY see the Dragon. Nasty, four legged beast with claws and teeth and scales all over. Heroes ALSO see the Hoard. Wealth to feed the family, arm one’s frame for the next encounter, and transmute to a Treasure.
In short, a Hero has trained himself to see opportunity within difficulty.
Second, which is a corollary to the first: “Don’t go fighting Dragons without Hoards. Unless a Princess is involved.” Not every Dragon has a Hoard. Have a reason before you go hunting.
Before we get to the “how do you know” question, basics first. Then the rest is easy.
Surprisingly, the Princess figures into the basics. Yes, the Ancient Ones have a long habit of burning whole kingdoms and somehow finding amid the thousands of skirts bustling about which one is the Princess (there remain some mysteries), and rescuing her is as quick a way to success as I’ve ever heard of—but that is not what I’m talking about here.
I’m talking about your wife, your daughters, your sisters. Family first. If a Dragon is nearby, then Hoard or no Hoard, it’s time to serve up an eviction notice. You mark your territory, like Rikki-tikki-tavi, so the Dragons just beyond catch wind of your name and shiver, if cold-blooded things could.
Also for your friends. What really is the rescuing of a Princess but a grand favor for the grandest of favor-givers, namely the King? Life as a Hero is lonely. You can mitigate that by changing from copying the myopic isolated idiots in the trashier “Hero” stories who seem purposefully intent on making all non-Dragons angry with them so that the ONLY thing that can welcome them back into civilized company is redemption via Dragon-Dispossessing and Hoard-taking, and instead use your efforts to win you friends all along the way.
So, once you’ve cleared your backyard and taken care of your friends, you’ll have some experience to draw on which Dragons have Hoards and which don’t. And for those academics here eavesdropping, there’s no algorithm I can tell you that will overcome a lack of good old-fashioned Dragon sense.
I will say, sometimes a missing Hoard is not missing at all. There’s no lack of times Heroes fail to see the greater part of the Hoard lying right in front of them and leave with mere pennies.
So, these first two rules are all about seeing the Hoard. Do not let the disagreeableness of the Dragon discomfort you; and do not search blindly when looting their lairs. Attune your eyes to seeing the Hoard—this will go a long way towards your later responsibility of Transmuting it into Treasure.
There are more rules but time must be given for each to sink in, so I’ll stop for now. Happy hunting!