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In my world, dragons must faithfully guard their nest during the entirety of the eggs' incubation period (ie. no food/smoke/potty breaks). The reason for this is because the eggs must be kept warm with periodic blasts of dragonfire. Towards the tail end of the incubation period, I imagine that the mother would be somewhat weaker than usual due to hunger, but this is not dangerous to the dragon's health in the long term.

A thieves' organization finds the secret location of a dragon's nesting area deep in a cavern. Some things that make it tricky to steal this dragon's eggs:

  • There is only one (natural) entrance to the area, making it easy to guard.
  • The dragon has a good sense of smell and vision.
  • As stated above, the dragon never leaves the area. However, the dragon must nap from time to time.
  • If the dragon correctly identifies the location of a threat, she will incinerate that area.
  • The dragon protects against magic with anti-scrying magic, but not necessarily anything else. Essentially security through obscurity.
  • Dragons are intelligent creatures, at least on par with humans. This doesn't mean they can't be deceived or baited, but that they will see through simple tricks.

How could this organization steal one (or more) of the eggs without being killed by the massively powerful dragon? Tools that are available to the organization:

  • Magic: I haven't defined this well yet, so there are broad possibilities. I assume that to any spell there's a more powerful counter. As I mentioned above, the dragon is more worried about people magically detecting the egg than other things. Teleportation or Levitation are interesting mechanics that might be useful.
  • Classic Fantasy Races: Such as dwarves. Who could make tunnels and whatnot.
  • Money: They can buy relevant and useful equipment. They plan on making a good profit margin by selling the egg anyway.
  • Draconic lust: Dragons lust after treasure. However, during the incubation of eggs, this is a secondary impulse to protecting the young.
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    $\begingroup$ You might want to include what kind of magic you have. $\endgroup$ – Flummox Mar 28 '17 at 20:12
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    $\begingroup$ This is a question about plot, not about building a world. Voting to close. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Mar 28 '17 at 20:48
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    $\begingroup$ Stealing a dragon egg 101, an idiots guide; Just max out the stealth skill and then wing it. You probably wont even be noticed. P.S. Also the egg might be abit big, so making sure there is enough space in your interspacial storage is a must. $\endgroup$ – Necessity Mar 28 '17 at 21:02
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    $\begingroup$ The thieves organization may have 'expendables'. ("We'll feed your family after you are dead. You're dying either way.") A bunch go in and distract and bother/distract and die by dragon ire. One manages the egg. Something like that. Or smell. Somehow manage to get 'eau de dragon' and smear the most agile... $\endgroup$ – WRX Mar 28 '17 at 21:25
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    $\begingroup$ Since dragons are sentient, intelligent creatures, they are entitled to a well-defined personality. Perhaps you could elaborate on what kind of dragon we are dealing with? Especially vices that can be exploited are relevant for the thieves. $\endgroup$ – Sazanami Mar 29 '17 at 6:45
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Dilution is the solution. Secrete your mage with a peephole into the cavern. No food/smoke/potty breaks for her either. Your mage has 1 spell: roll. Roll in fake eggs, initially one at a time and then in groups. They have to be able to fake out the dragon. Maybe she will incubate them all. Maybe she will incubate the first few and then resign herself to the fact that eggs are rolling around the place. Eggs sometimes are still but sometimes roll to and fro. Into the nest. Out of the nest. Out of the cave. Back into the cave. She will not smash them. She will get used to them. Kids; what can you do?

Mage with her mage eye (it is like a jewelers loupe) can see the mage mark on the fakes. Pretty soon the real egg is joining the fun, rolling here and there. When that one rolls out of the cave, it does not come back. Momma is happy with all her eggs. Mage collects other half of her pay, with bonus.

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    $\begingroup$ So basically a variation on the Shell Game with the eggs? $\endgroup$ – Thane Brimhall Mar 28 '17 at 20:34
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Incite a dogooder (Paladin) to challenge the dragon.

Then, when the dragon is busy, snatch and run. Fast. Far. Hide.

At some point you or your descendants will die a horrible death but you may have the egg long enough to sell it.

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    $\begingroup$ Fire in the East, attack in the West. Classic. $\endgroup$ – Thane Brimhall Mar 28 '17 at 20:21
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    $\begingroup$ I like the simple solutions. They have fewer moving parts to go wrong. And Paladins are very dependable in some ways.... $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Mar 28 '17 at 21:03
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Lie to get two birds with one stone. This is a thieves guild, yes? They should have some right good con-artists among them. Add in some professional illusionists and...

The illusionists work to build highly realistic fake egg.s They also work with the guild members to craft highly realistic illusionist version of the guild's rivals. Surely they have rivals, yes? Perhaps illusions of the local do-gooder constables, or the paladins from the nearby temple. Or even a rival guild. Some group is a thorn in the guild's side.

The illusory adventurers sneak into the dragon's lair and steal all of the illusory eggs. Simultaneous to that, the real eggs are cloaked under invisibility spells.

So now your dragon is quite pissed off. She chases the illusions, which leads the dragon to the real people the illusions are based off of. Hilarity (for the guild) ensues.

While the dragon is off destroying her new enemies, your guild members calmly steal the eggs. And possibly a few trinkets, but best not to get too greedy, since that provides more ways to track your real thieves.

If the dragon succeeds in slaying the paladins/constables, then hey, that's a win. If they destroy the dragon then hey, you're already at the lair... help yourself to all the treasure before they can claim it. Again, a win.

This way the guild doesn't have to defeat the dragon. It instead creates a path of least resistance so the dragon defeats herself. Far more subtle. Far less risky, since your guild's people won't be in the lair at all.

After all, these are thieves and scoundrels... Not combat-heavy adventurers!

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    $\begingroup$ Very clever, pin the blame on someone else. $\endgroup$ – Thane Brimhall Mar 30 '17 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ Yep. that seems like the sort of thing a group of thieves would do! $\endgroup$ – CaM Mar 30 '17 at 20:23
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So you have found yourself the age old riddle of getting into and out of places that someone else does not want you too. And there is some one actively trying to keep you out.

Remove the guard, by either misdirection, uhm, you really need to be somewhere else ma'm Dragon. Like, your other children need a diaper change, like, uhm now. Don't worry, we will take care of your eggs.

Incapacitate Miss Dragon, sleep spell might work. Or a delivery service with some nice food. Ain't you hungry miss Dragon? These pizza's are totally delicious. Strange taste you say? We are trying some new tastes. Like extra strong experimental sleeping pills.

Obviate You will only go into defensive mode if you think something is wrong. So if you happen to have a master burglar with a nice cloak that renders you invisible, ma'm Dragon might not even notice that one of her beloved eggs looks slightly different now. Not that anyone has taken a page from mr. Jones on changing precious items with sensitive surroundings. And even Dragons eggs don't all hatch, do they, miss?

Beware, not all Dragons are able to talk, are reasonable in breeding season or up to date on pop-culture. This advice comes with no warrenty.

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Method summary

If you can make the eggs invisible while the dragon is taking a nap, she'll probably panic when she wakes up and believes that the eggs are gone. If the scent of humans lingers, she will likely assume those humans recently stole the eggs and have since fled. She won't have time to reason in what ways it might be a trap. She'll have to pursue the humans, or risk losing the eggs. When the dragon leaves the nest to pursue, move in and steal the eggs.

Methods for hiding the eggs

  • Magic is usually the simplest solution if available. If an invisibility spell is too high level for the thieves, they might try an illusion or hypnosis spell, which just happen to be particularly effective when the subject is asleep.
  • Camouflage or non-magical optical illusions are a possibility, but tend to require intimate knowledge of the terrain the eggs are in. Additionally, this method quickly falls apart if the dragon makes a quick sweep of the area to make sure that the eggs are, indeed, gone.
  • Hide the eggs in a hole and cover it up. How would you dig a hole right next to a dragon, you ask? No idea. Ask a dwarf. There might be magic spells available that have the desired effect.
  • If there's only a single egg, disguise it as something else. For example, create a sign 'Thane Brimhall was here <3', and place it over the egg. (bonus points if the sign encases the eggs, for the event the sign is moved). This method only works if there's one or two eggs, as placing more signs will be suspicious. The advantage of this method is that it taunts the dragon, increasing the likelihood that it will choose to pursue.

Disclaimers

  • This method fails if there are multiple eggs and you only disguise a few. The dragon will have to balance guarding the remaining eggs with pursuing the thieves. Never underestimate a dragon that applies reason.
  • The thieves will have to move fast. The dragon is not likely to pursue fake thieves (without so much as a real egg) for very long. The thieves can buy some time by creating a more elaborate trail ahead of time. If they are particularly cruel, they may have the trail lead to enemies of their own or even enemies of the dragon, if she is known to have them.
  • If the thieves don't mask their own human scent sufficiently, the dragon may notice. If she does... Let's just say that immolation is not the most pleasant way to die.
  • If the dragon notices the eggs are still there, it is likely that the dragon will find the thieves, even if their scent is masked properly. This will likely lead to death in an even more agonizing manner, as the dragon will not have to worry about damaging the eggs while punishing the thieves for their scheming.
  • If you value your life, don't steal eggs from a dragon.
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    $\begingroup$ "Not stealing eggs from dragons" is a rule only slightly less famous than "Never go up against a Sicilian when DEATH is on the line." $\endgroup$ – CaM Mar 30 '17 at 20:28
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Nighty-night

Here's what you do: first, have a bunch of dragon egg replicas, then, fill the cave with a colourless, odourless sedative gas. While the dragon is sleeping, sneak in, swap the real eggs for the fake ones, sneak out. With any luck, the dragon will simply think all her eggs are duds. Please note, eggs must be fire-proof.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio May 29 '17 at 17:14
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Fight fire with fire.

You want to hire another dragon into stealing the eggs for you. Dragons being treasure hoarding creatures would be easy to hire for a small treasury.

Fight fire with ... Stone?

Hire a bunch of other resilient magical creatures, like giants, to march into the cave and deal with the dragon for others to steal the eggs in the meantime. Giants would likely not be able to steal the eggs themselves being clumsy and unconsiderate, but as a meat shield and a serious threat they'd be a good distraction.

Fight fire with water, duh.

Flood the cave. If it has only one entrance, it would be easy. You just need loads of water, from a nearby river. Dig up a canal and steer it into the cave. Eggs should sink. Additionally, a substance may be required to be added to flowing water to prevent the dragon from snatching the eggs in an attempt to escape, which wouldn't harm eggs shell, but would hurt the dragon.

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    $\begingroup$ "You want to hire another human to steal the babies for you. Humans, being money loving creatures, would be easily hired for a small stack of cash." Probably not so easy; no dragon would want to set the precedent of helping steal dragon eggs for the lesser races. Dragon posse would tear them apart. $\endgroup$ – Azuaron Mar 30 '17 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ Well, there are all sorts of people. No reason for dragons like that not to exist. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Nicholson Mar 30 '17 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ Not saying you couldn't find one, but it's certainly not a forgone thing or a small treasury. And, unless you know a lot of dragons, you're really going to have to put in some legwork. And hope that the 1,000 dragons you speak to before finding the cooperative one don't kill you for even asking. $\endgroup$ – Azuaron Mar 31 '17 at 13:27

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