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It's an extremely common trope in Role Playing Games (RPG's) for wandering monsters to carry lootable currency (gold, moolah, dinero, big ones, cash, large, green, etc.).

Now, it makes sense that non-human intelligent creatures such as orcs, trolls, elves, dwarves, gnomes, fey, Crab People, Rigellians, or small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri could find it helpful and useful to possess small amounts of human currency to use in their encounters with humans, so it makes sense for such creatures to drop that currency upon being defeated. These creatures generally are intelligent enough to understand what economies are and how to participate in one. What doesn't make sense, though, is why wild creatures also carry cash.

Why would wild creatures in a fantasy role playing universe, such as bears, bats, tigers, sharks, or flatworms, regularly carry currency to the extent that adventurers would see them as a reliable source of dough? Reasons could relate to an in-universe fantasy or science fiction conceit, but should make sense within that context rather than be little more than "that's just how it is". Creatures that are intelligent enough to participate in an economy, such as orcs or trolls, don't count since a reason already exists for them to hoard an adventurer's favored currency. The question is why creatures such as bears that are not sophisticated enough to participate in an economy nonetheless regularly carry currency from that economy.

This question occurred to me when I was playing a role-playing video game and realized that I was gathering cash by literally killing bugs and rodents and then resetting them by leaving the screen so I could kill and loot them all over again, and that half of the games I had played similarly provided a steady income stream for killing bugs and rodents. None of these games provided any in-universe reason for these creatures carrying money.

To be clear, I am asking for in-universe reasons for wild creatures carrying money. Out-of-universe, most games that follow this trope do it in order to allow the player an easy but tedious way to make enough money to buy the items they need to achieve the next game checkpoint (e.g. I can't afford the 100 Spacebucks price to buy the hyperspace regulator I need to warp to Regulus, but I know that about one third of mice in the sewers of Spaceport Alpha drop 1-2 Spacebucks each. I'm going rodent hunting!).

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    $\begingroup$ There's a light novel isekai(-ish) Log Horizon where the answer involves a global conspiracy of a banker tribe using magic to manipulate adventurers, which is a hilarious concept, but doesn't solve the problem. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Jun 8, 2022 at 21:18
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    $\begingroup$ Obligatory scene from the bard, wolfs drop money? youtube.com/watch?v=RZl9KcSywos $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jun 8, 2022 at 23:19
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    $\begingroup$ Worse than that is games which let any enemy drop any kind of treasure, so "I just killed that swarm of locusts (with a bow and arrow somehow), and it dropped a full suit of plate armor". This sort of thing happens all the time in video games. $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2022 at 17:52
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP Are you implying that all games where random wild animals carry money are not worth playing, or have I missed your point? $\endgroup$
    – Nacht
    Jun 10, 2022 at 3:44
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP Because "realism" isn't the driving consideration of game design? If you want the most realistic game in the world, go and sit on a bench. If you are playing a game you are presumably looking for things in addition or instead of pure realism. $\endgroup$
    – xLeitix
    Jun 10, 2022 at 13:53

18 Answers 18

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You kill the creature, you sell its fur/hide/meat/whatever and that turns into money.

Thanks to the real time service of RPGazon, you don't need to reach the closest village to monetize the bounty, it's immediately monetized and cashed into your wallet.

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    $\begingroup$ It may also be that the store where you want to spend the money accepts both rat fur and metal coins as money at a fixed exchange rate so game wise it is more convenient to just use the picture of metal coins for all forms of money. $\endgroup$
    – quarague
    Jun 9, 2022 at 7:25
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    $\begingroup$ Every adventurer carries a homing beacon for those instant-fur-pickup-drones.... $\endgroup$
    – sdfgeoff
    Jun 9, 2022 at 11:29
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    $\begingroup$ And that's why the corpse disappears as soon as I win. Two mysteries solved. $\endgroup$
    – svavil
    Jun 9, 2022 at 14:19
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    $\begingroup$ You don't even need instant fur pickup. You report to RPGazon that you slew such and such a beast and get instant credit into your checking account (as a loan against selling the fur once you return to town). $\endgroup$
    – SPavel
    Jun 9, 2022 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ More seriously, World of Warcraft established the cash as a game shortcut for not making you carry and sell fur/intestines/claws/teeth/eyes... for every animal -- they had wolves drop only sellable teeth and also cash as a "just pretend I gave you the other body parts and you sold them". $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2022 at 22:26
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Shiny! Give me the shiny! Real-world crow behavior of collecting shiny things simply because they are shiny is simply incredibly prevalent in RPG monster behavior.

The real question is why there is enough cash laying around in caves and forests for monsters to perform the initial collection. I doubt it's because they've managed to kill enough adventurers and collect it off their corpses, it has to be something environmental that produces specie in already-struck coin form.

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    $\begingroup$ I assume the source of the cash is humans that have been killed by strong creatures that didn't collect the cash. It's true that most cockroaches don't kill adult human adventurers, but the forest ghost kills plenty and doesn't hoard their cash, leaving it on the ground where it's available to basement-dwellers. $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Jun 8, 2022 at 22:31
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    $\begingroup$ I would upvote twice if I could. Shiny things to attract mates, shiny things to rearrange endlessly just for the sheer enjoyment ... $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2022 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ Works for crows,.but not a lot else. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Jun 9, 2022 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ One could argue that, if the world were old enough, there would be plenty of "wild" cash to go around. Over thousands of years, the bodies of luckless adventurers and hapless travellers would yield more than enough coinage for the critters of the world to collect their share, waiting for the next poor sod to recycle it through the system. $\endgroup$ Jun 10, 2022 at 13:26
  • $\begingroup$ I wanted to find a reference for the "[crows | monkeys | fish] like shiny objects" concept before posting a similar answer, and most of the search results came up with debunkings of those ideas. I am still searching, because I do remember seeing a nature documentary with an animal decorating its nest with shiny manmade found objects, presumably to make it more appealing to mates. $\endgroup$
    – Theodore
    Jun 10, 2022 at 13:56
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Your animals are not preys, they're predators and they need lures!

The player is almost always a legend, so killing monster is an easy task for them. After all, when you're the hero of the old tales carrying the XP-Scalibur sword, nothing should frighten you. But what about the others, the common adventurer? For most people -and especially rookies-, even one single giant rat is big trouble. This is the reason villagers ask for specialist guilds to help, and the reason why the animals want money : it's the perfect bait.

Indeed, they learned one way or another that money attracts all sorts of tasty adventurers. Perhaps they think it's the gold smell, perhaps they saw another animal use it as bait, in any case it's very effective to attract greedy adventurers and hunt them. And they make a very nutritive food, although a bit iron crispy at times.

But why don't they pick up the armor or sword that often instead? What sets money apart from other pieces of valuable equipment? It's simple, you can easily scale the bait to the prey you're chasing. You can pick the amount you need, and you don't need to estimate the price of the item either, just have to check the size and color of the heap. You're a bear? Take enough to fill your paw in order to attract the mid-level adventurers. You're a dragon? Fill in a cave with some normal hunting before, then just let the crowds of snacks in your new dining room. In the end, why should you seek your meal when you can just let it come to you?

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    $\begingroup$ That's an original explanation! +1 $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2022 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ @MickaëlC.Guimarães only works for intelligent monsters and animals though. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Jun 9, 2022 at 22:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Pelinore inteligent as in Dog/Cat/Monkey intelligent, doesn't need to be a sentient specie $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2022 at 22:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Pelinore Yes, in that the more... "Straightforward" animals probably wouldn't do that, in that case other answers are better fit (looking at you, stomach aches one). However we often tend to underestimate animal's intelligence, especially in social (and eusocial) species and predators. Orcas and some birds are known to use baits. And given enough adaptation time and coevolution, more species might instinctively adopt this behavior. $\endgroup$ Jun 10, 2022 at 1:29
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Reverse the Causality

It's not that wild creatures drop money, it's that people use money from what wild creatures drop. Now, obviously, this doesn't work so well for a currency which is explicitly gold coins, but most JRPGs use some fictional stand in i.e. gald, gol, gil, etc. which doesn't necessarily mean gold.

Think of it like this - monster killing is usually a necessary job in fantasy worlds given that villagers can easily be killed by the evil ratmen or what have you, so adventuring needs to be a profession. Now, instead of a bounty system or anything of that nature, the currency was shifted to be a little more direct - the animal corpses themselves are the currency. This was shortened, and now just an animal token (i.e. bone fragment or some unique and easily preserved body part) are used as currency. This is especially easy as many fantasy creatures have fantastical design elements, i.e. scales, which lend themselves toward money.

Now, an generatable money supply is usually a problem from an economic standpoint, but this is a commodity currency, not a fiat one. The money, given that its monster parts, can also be used physically - making weapons, for instance, so you don't have runaway inflation problems.

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    $\begingroup$ Yup, it's also very convenient that every animal on the planet posess the same kind of hard and shiny magical organ. $\endgroup$
    – Jemox
    Jun 9, 2022 at 11:59
  • $\begingroup$ Gizzard Stones provide a similar possibility. $\endgroup$
    – Jontia
    Jun 10, 2022 at 7:27
  • $\begingroup$ Teeth work well for this. Most scary animals will have teeth of some sort. It'd be believable that large beasts have significantly more teeth. Maybe as far as the inflation goes, the wise village elders destroy teeth in order to keep adventures killing monsters. $\endgroup$
    – yesennes
    Jun 10, 2022 at 14:25
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Stomachs.

enter image description here

These are vicious animals, preying on the population. There is no shortage of giant rats and cockroaches that are willing to swallow something shiny and just a little larger than what they can conveniently pass on while consuming that indentured servant who disappeared on his way to town to buy a love potion. This means that poor and determined adventurers, desperately willing to do a Jaws style autopsy on every critter they kill, inevitably find some coins and other valuables here and there. Of course, some things do pass out, but the adventurers probably are checking the nearby poo piles while you're busy looking at the glowing +2 on the screen.

Yes, I would have given L. Dutch's answer if he hadn't beaten me to it, and said they carry wallets full of bear gall bladders and shark fins, but in a classically gold-rich gaming environment there ought to be enough literal coins around to sustain this.

(Photo: Radiopedia)

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  • $\begingroup$ "why", not "how". $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2022 at 19:09
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    $\begingroup$ Works best as an explanation for animals that either consume man sized prey whole and (perhaps) those that instinctively swallow small hard objects to aid with digestion by grinding their food in their stomach. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Jun 9, 2022 at 22:09
  • $\begingroup$ @THEJOATMON Referring to real world, sea turtles and other animals often mistake plastic components for food. Animals suited to dismantle and eat people in full plate armor should live with the same troubles. Albeit with tougher intestines. That's where the how joins the why :). $\endgroup$ Jun 10, 2022 at 2:41
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Because a wish made it so:


Long time ago, the very old, but once worldly famous thief Gold Dinero Smith, was in the middle of his morning stroll around the city while watching the children of the shadows, the wannabe thiefs of tomorrow, perform their daily practices and activities around the populace.

Some kids were caught, others took a beating and some were starved or stabbed corpses laying in the gutter waiting to be removed. Sorrow filled the old thief´s heart as he saw for the thousandth time that nothing ever changes for those who took the path of shadows, willingly or not.

It was foolish and certainly to many a waste of a perfect opportunity, but to Gold Dinero it was simply a wish for change. He grasped the stone set in the necklace around his neck, a gift gained when he stole a goddess's favor.

The old thief felt clumsy little hands relieving him of his many coin bags that he usually carried for that very reason. Taking a seat on an empty crate that complained louder than his joints he inhaled for the last time and saw a world where every act of sucessful thievery however small would be justly rewarded.

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Money is magic and visa versa

Why don’t magicians just summon money or gold coins? Because the magic needed to make the coins is the same cost as the magic, that is also why your magicians need gold, the magic in the money is consumed and the money disintegrates once the casting is done. When creatures die their bodies materialize an amount of money equal to their latent in expended magic. That magic is greater in more powerful things, and smaller in weaker things.

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Fundamental cash particles accumulate in the food chain

You're stopping too early. Look at the bugs, with their single coin, the tiny gnats with their centimes, and the microbes, with their millionths and billionths of a penny.

You see, the out of universe reason for the in game universe is to generate cash. That ethos so pervades the in game universe that every animate creature has just a little cash.

In the same way that every microbe exerts gravity in our world, they have a small amount of cash in theirs. When the small enough, the fundamental particles that constitute this cash reside in an uncollapsed quantum state; the cash fields sum additively inside a larger creature's microbiome and collapse when observed by a player. After this, the coins/GP/gil are normal macro scale objects and subject to normal money conventions.

Now, you may be wondering about conservation of cash. There is plenty of cash to go around for a long time, especially because sometimes cash is transformed into potions by Conservation Officers, otherwise known as shopkeepers. When drunk, the observed coins return to being unobserved, uncollapsed cash. All the same, in the long term, an imbalance called Charge builds up.

This is safely dissipated during player-unobserved episodes of in game economies revolving around NFTs, or collatoralised sub prime mortgages, or tulips, which result in mass death of the characters involved and the safe dissipation of the cashons back into the fabric of the in game universe.

The greedier the developer, the stronger the propensity for cash to spontaneously aggregate; hence loot boxes.

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I don't know why the critters in your game or stories wander around carrying gold, but Robert Heinlein provided a possible explanation in Glory Road.

One of the obstacles that Star, Oscar, and Rufo have to overcome is the "Horned Ghosts." These are essentially non-intelligent minotaur type (and sized) creatures. Horned ghosts have a gizzard (like chickens and other birds) to help digest their food. Like the birds, they have to fill this gizzard with small stones as grit to grind the food. Unlike birds, horned ghosts use only gold in their gizzards. Old adult horned ghosts may have as much as 20 to 30 pounds of gold in their gizzards.

Maybe the critters in the games you've played and the stories you've read don't really carry cash around with them. Rather, they have some valuable material in their substance (gold, pelts, mother of pearl, etc.) and the games just convert the value straight to cash to simplify things.

Say, like a beaver. Beaver pelts were used as trade goods in the early days of Canada and the USA. You are out there in the forest and trap beaver which you can then take to a trading post to exchange the pelts for money or materials (food, weapons, etc.)

Your games just elide that step of going to the trading post and award you the cash value of the critters straight away to simplify the game play.

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The creature has no use for money. The poor schmuck it ate earlier, whose remain you found in its stomach while harvesting it for materials, definitely did have a use for money. Stomach acids aren't strong enough to digest metal coins or the linen/cotten that makes up paper money.

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The clay used to shape life had some gold dust in it and thus...

When god or the gods shaped clay to create all life, the dust particles in the clay were forever linked to the breath of life and now EVERY creature CRAVES gold as it extends their life span and energy.

Either by wearing gold ornaments or consuming them, the touch of gold makes you live longer and also make you stronger and more powerfull.

Stronger animals will devour the smaller ones for the gold boost they will accquire and this also makes possible for stronger, larger enemies that when slayed will give a more substantious reward.

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Why would wild creatures in a fantasy role playing universe, such as bears, bats, tigers, sharks, or flatworms, regularly carry currency to the extent that adventurers would see them as a reliable source of dough?

The short answer is that this is just how the System works.

Let me explain. (In story form, because... well, I'm bored, that's why.)

Magic in the most raw, unstructured form is highly chaotic and has a tendency to destroy things. Imagine a universe like our own where the laws of physics are the only thing that keeps everything running smoothly. Something happens to introduce magic into the world and things start breaking down. Unless something is done to curb the effects of magic the world, and everything on it, are doomed. For example if the contamination extends as far as our sun then it only takes a minor disruption to cause a catastrophic event - a coronal mass ejection would be sufficient, but all it takes is a very small change in the strong nuclear force to make our sun either collapse or explode... or both.

Fortunately a group of scientists discover ways to manipulate magic and do useful things with it. Eventually they figure out a way to create a magic framework that takes raw magic and channels it in various ways. They can't just make it disappear, it can't be stored (because eventually boom, that's why), it has to be actively expended. They work on the problem for a few years and come up with the System: a magical framework that converts raw magic and channels that power into safe and occasionally useful outlets.

Over time (for reasons that only a few of the major gods currently are aware of) the amount of raw magic contaminating the planet increases. The System has had to grow to handle larger amounts of power and provide more outlets for that power. The engineers who created the System added all sorts of extras to the system, but when they found a way to connect the System to everyone they figured out fairly quickly that this would be a good long-term solution. They tinkered a bit and came up with some additions to the System that let everyone use some of the excess power to improve their lives. They added mechanics for all sorts of things to encourage people to burn the processed Mana more effectively: skills, spells, abilities and even Divinity. Anything that would (relatively) safely consume the power before it could cause problems.

Of course the engineers, being human, became the first gods of the setting. What's the point of creating a cosmic power machine if you're not going to get to use it, am I right? A few of them kept working on the System, but the rest mostly got drunk on the power and just started playing.

Each time the power levels reach a certain threshold the current group of System Lords tinkers some more and adds more things to either directly use the power or encourage the morals to use more of it. Monster spawns were an early favorite, especially since the monsters had useful parts that could be harvested and use for alchemy and crafting.

Dungeons were another innovation that lead to a major leap in power utilization. Originally a safety feature to create mana orbs in areas of dangerously high mana concentration, it was eventually determined that these orbs were themselves quite dangerous if not drained and would continue to absorb mana until they exploded. The Dungeon subsystem was added to encapsulate these cores and drain their power by creating subspaces populated with created monsters, and valueable items to lure people to the Dungeon. If a Dungeon isn't cleared often enough the core becomes dangerously overloaded until it has to dump power by creating and releasing large quantities of monsters - a bad thing for anyone living nearby.

Seeing how Dungeons worked so well, the System Lords decided to extend some aspects of it to the rest of the world. Specifically, loot drops. Hunting creatures for their meat, hides and other body parts is all well and good, but when you can get actual money and items right off the corpse? Almost overnight loot drops became the most successful addition to the System in terms of motivation. Adventurer's guilds, previously only found near Dungeons, sprang up all over the place. Hordes of adventurers sallied forth in search of the most awesome loot... ok, mostly for drinking money and enough cash to upgrade their gear.

And that's how it is that you can collect money from creatures that have no rational need for it. That lizard you just killed has probably never seen a gold piece in its' life, and the only time it has ever seen a magical weapon is while Harold over there was hitting it with one. That doesn't stop us from picking up a few gold pieces and a crappy magic dagger from it.

Just remember to thank the Gods and the System for their bounty. Maybe they'll appreciate it enough to rig some results in your favor in future. Can't hurt, eh?

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Waste

Those coins weren't made by humans. Turns out your creatures create disk shaped lumps of metal as a waste by-product. Turns out creatures in fantasy worlds really like eating rocks (to help aid their digestion). From that they process out some of the minerals for their own usage and the rest gets compressed into a disk before being excreted. The process of passing though the animals body polishes it to make it shiny and leaves behind a gold stain. So what you scavenge is in fact the waste that has not yet left the animals body. This also explains why there are random piles of coins scattered around the world.

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Golden Kidney Stones are a Waste Product

There's actually a fair amount of gold in various chemical forms on this world, for geological reasons. As gold is inert, animals need to clean it from their bodies. They could have evolved to excrete it the normal way. But a quirk of evolution and chemistry means that most animals on this world instead form stones of gold, similar to pearls or kidney stones, or this bacterium (C. metallidurans). These golden stones accumulate in the kidney of the animal over the animal's lifetime. They hardly ever grow large enough to threaten the animal's health over the course of its life, so there is no evolutionary pressure to do it a different way. The golden stones can be extracted when the animal dies.

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Because the gods want people to kill monsters.

The gods are trying to make it easier for people to hunt dangerous creatures, for some reason they can't just kill or weaken the creatures (perhaps a deal with evil gods that keeps the evil gods from just killing heroes) but they can make sure people that do hunt them can make a good living. This is why a cow or deer does not drop money but a fire bear or zombie or other "monsters" do, or whatever the gods consider "monsters". The gods have made it so the death of a monster creates/summons spendable money. A divine bounty if you will.

this has two big benefits

  1. even selfish or downright evil people still have an decent incentive to kill off monsters.

  2. hunting monsters makes for a good living ensuring the people that can do it have a strong incentive to do it. Heroes do not need to be independently wealthy to spend their time fighting monsters, fighting minster will pay for itself.

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A wizard did it.

A long time ago, a powerful dracolich decided to use necromancy to feed his greed. He began a ritual which would curse every living being on the plane, so that when they die, their life essence is used to teleport someone's valuables to the dracolich's hoard. Usually gold, but sometimes magic items, trinkets, and all manner of things. Soon enough, he would collect everything that is of value in the world! Mwa ha ha ha!

Enter a group of plucky adventurers who caught wind of the plot and resolved to stop it. They worked long and hard levelling up and collecting McGuffins - it was a lot harder back in their days, adventuring didn't just pay for itself like it does for all you whippersnappers nowadays! But in the end, after an epic battle, they defeated the dracolich. It turns out he made his phylactery the focus of the teleport spell, which broke the ritual... Almost. With the phylactery destroyed, the "teleporting to the hoard" part stopped working, but the life essence was still being captured. The spell just started dumping the items at the spot where the being was killed. This they discovered rather dramatically when they killed the dracolich. You see, one of the party members happened to be wearing, this whole time, without telling anyone, a powerful and valuable magic item that, ahem, changed their appearance somewhat... But that is another story, for another time.

In any case, the adventurers were declared heroes and there was much rejoicing. Although the ritual wasn't fully dispelled, it was all put to a vote and most folks felt it's better left as is to help offset growing wealth disparity in recent times. A few wealthy people grumbled about disparate impact but the rejoicing was just too strong. The heroes themselves were also happy with this, since frankly they had to defeat this dracolich quite a few times now (being that he's been a recurring boss who reanimates) and had grown tired of it, not to mention quite financially strained with all the potions and supplies and what not. It was agreed that in lieu of payment, they would simply wander around and dispose of roving nasties as a sort of DIY retirement fund.

As you contemplate this silly little child's tale (as well as your almost empty mug of ale), you suddenly hear a conniving voice in the shadows nearby. "Psst! You looking for a job? I have a very wealthy patron who needs some... creative problem solving services, shall we say? Experience with magic artifacts and breaking spells not required, but highly recommended. Now listen, my patron is losing a lot of money on this as we speak, so if you can solve his problem, there might be a very generous reward - what do you say?


You can add a few twists to this, of course. Maybe the goddess of adventure is materializing the loot, to keep people interested in adventuring as the world becomes more civilized and enlightened. Or maybe there's a magical plague that captures loot in pocket dimensions, sustained by the life force of a being, which then become embedded on their body like cockleburs. Or maybe the pocket dimensions are temporary portals to the Elemental Plane of Loot? Or perhaps there is a secret cabal of invisible mad pixies running around, casting spells of Create Loot, setting them to trigger on death. You get the idea.

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You are the exterminator

You exterminate "bugs and rodents" for a living. The more dangerous these pests are the higher the reward. Their sheer mass and quick reproduction has made the villagers' life hell on earth so they're willing to shell out quite some money to get rid of them, rewarding you for every dead bug or rodent.

Since you live in a time before the invention of pesticides you'll have to make do with swords, clubs and the like. It comes in handy that these critters are pretty large. As you get rid of them your reputation rises and the villagers of every new village you arrive at readily await the famed adventurer to fight their pests.

Exterminator

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that's a good reason (and a common quest) for people to pay you for hunting animals, but that's not really what the question asks. It asks why the animals carry the money themselves, and as you hunt them, you can gather money directly from them. $\endgroup$ Jun 12, 2022 at 1:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena that's because the asker assumed that "drops money" implies "carries money" rather than "death of animal is worth money"; the RPGs don't explicitly state this. $\endgroup$
    – Luatic
    Jun 12, 2022 at 6:12
  • $\begingroup$ If the asker is... Asking about why animals carry money, it's then about why they carry money, no more, no less ^^. If you can explain how money appears on the beasty when you're pest-exterminating a few km from the nearest villager, it would accurately answer the question. $\endgroup$ Jun 12, 2022 at 11:48
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It's an extremely common trope in Role Playing Games (RPG's)

No it isn't!

In roleplaying games, if you kill a creature then you get the creature's carcass. You may then be able to sell the creature's carcass to get money, or use it to craft objects which you can sell for money. But an unintelligent creature will not itself drop money, unless there's a very good reason for it. (For example, raiding a jackdaw's nest for the small shiny objects they've pilfered.)

It's a common trope in hack'n'slash video games though, which are not role playing games. In a video game, the purpose is to sustain a flowing gameplay, and interrupting this to have you go back and sell stuff may be considered to spoil this flow. Other video games may have a score system too, in which case "gold" is simply a scoring system from kills.

So you need to rethink your categorisations. If your game makes so little attempt to model reality that it has bugs dropping gold pieces, then by definition it cannot be a roleplaying game. It can be a fun hack'n'slash adventure, sure, but it lacks the contact with reality which would make it a roleplaying game. By the same token, a game like 1942 would not be called a flight simulator just because you happen to be moving a sprite that's a plane.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree the trope may contribute to categorizing a game as a hack and slash, but an RPG is just a storytelling mechanism. A story can be told in a world with just enough self-consistency to make the story enjoyable, or in a setting with rules that realistically simulate almost every aspect of the world. Unlike a flight simulator, the defining feature of an RPG is not its level of realism - I disagree that any game with gold-dropping bugs is "by definition" not an RPG. $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2022 at 14:49
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    $\begingroup$ @NuclearHoagie Since the OP is saying that this breaks their suspension of disbelief in the scenario, I'd suggest that the existence of this question implies gold-dropping bugs are the wrong side of the threshold for self-consistency. :) $\endgroup$
    – Graham
    Jun 9, 2022 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ The trope is significantly more common in JRPG. Unless of course you mean to suggest they're not "real" RPG. $\endgroup$
    – Lintor
    Jun 9, 2022 at 16:27
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ It's wrong, but not only because it's actually a common trope in RPGs. It's a common trope in any kind of games with currencies and animals to fight (among which most are RPGs, see the RPG tag on your favorite gaming platform) : World of Warcraft and other MMORPGs, Terraria and Starbound, most tower defenses, Borderlands, Final Fantasy, Bastion, King's Bounty... The list goes on. In any case, you're avoiding and not answering the question, which is not about how people should categorize a game (genres are attributed by all people, not just the creator). $\endgroup$ Jun 10, 2022 at 2:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Graham the lack of in-universe explanation breaks their sense of disbelief. That's why they're asking for one here. $\endgroup$
    – MJD
    Jun 10, 2022 at 21:07

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